THERE’S been a significant structural change to the set-up of the Canberra Women’s AFL league for next season and the new, two-tier competition is a disappointment for the Queanbeyan Tigerettes.
Last season, the competition comprised nine teams in one unified division allowing each team to play each other home and away in a 16-game regular season.
Beginning next year, Queanbeyan will instead now be placed in the competition’s new Second Division alongside strugglers ANU, ADFA and the league’s new club Murrumbidgee.
Division One will be comprised of the sides who finished in the top six of last year’s regular season, led by the defending premiers Eastlake. Queanbeyan’s seventh placed finish this year means the Tigrettes have been placed in the smaller of the two divisions.
The most bizarre aspect of this change though, is that teams will continue to face opposition from each division, just not in the same regularity as last season. That has me baffled.
The regular season has also been chopped down from 16 games to 12.
As I understand it, the four teams in Division Two will play each other twice home and away over the regular season, amounting to six games against division rivals. The remaining six games will be one-off encounters with each of the sides in the top division.
The problem with this lies in the fact that our ladies will now only be able to take on the competition’s stronger sides six times, as opposed to the 12 matches afforded to them against the same opposition last season.
As third-year player and Tigerettes centre-half forward Jane Vucago told me, the girls improved vastly last season. A big factor behind this was the chance to match up against the league’s elite sides on a weekly basis.
“It’s disappointing for us that we won’t get to play the better teams more often next season, sides like Ainslie, Riverina and Tuggeranong Hawks, who always brought the best out in the girls,” Vucago said.
Makes me wonder a little what the league is trying to achieve here by approving the split. Yes, teams will play other sides that are seemingly closer to their ability more often.
But to me, the intrigue of a good competition is the variety of rivals and the challenge to perform week in week out against the entire spectrum of opposition.
For now though, the girls are focussing on their pre-season fitness and are looking forward to next season.
“Without knowing a great deal about the changes for next season, there’s no point speculating too much just yet. We are just looking forward to putting in a big pre-season and being ready to hit the ground running next year,” Vucago said.
An interesting carrot would be an English Premier League style promotion battle for each team in Division Two to fight for.
The winner of Division Two could then replace the sixth-place team in the top tier for the following season, ensuring every game has meaning even if a finals place for a Division One side has eluded them. Watch this space.
In other news, take a bow Ricky Ponting. One of the game’s greatest ever players ended his phenomenal cricket career this week by announcing his retirement following the third test against South Africa at the W.A.C.A ground in Perth.
Never mind the result for now (we got thumped and have some serious issues to attend to). Punter graced the international arena and his legacy will live long in my memory and those of many of you out there.
His 41 test centuries at an average of 51.85 with more than 13,000 test runs will take many years to be bettered by an Australian. But the amazing statistic of being the only man in the history of test cricket to have played in 100 test wins is the one that stands out in my mind.
Oh, and being part of three world cup wins, captaining two of those as well. The list goes on. Congratulations Ricky and all the best in retirement.
The commentary provided in this column is the opinion of its contributor. It does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of The Queanbeyan Age.