With the Riverland Football League to make an overdue return senior interleague competition this season former Loxton North premiership coach Craig Wooldridge has put his hand up to coach the side.
Talking on Radio 5RM’s “Sports Saturday” program yesterday morning Craig’s long term passion for football at this level was obvious so the 2016 campaign is in perfect hands.
While talking about passion the main person behind the Riverland having the opportunity to re-enter interleague play is another person dedicated and passionate about the cause , Kevin ‘Bluey’ Roberts from the Mallee League.
Bluey has coached the Eastern Zone team at the SA Country Championships in recent seasons and was convinced that to aid selection for that side, and also to give Eastern Zone players the opportunity of gaining a spot in the SA Country team for the Nationals, all leagues across the zone needed to be involved in interleague competition.
Convincing officials and club coaches in some leagues was another matter.
Many did not want to expose their players, contracted in particular, to injury and put club interests in front of the game.
But Kevin is just not passionate he is determined as well and took on the monumental task to change attitudes in his own time and at his own expense.
He contacted numerous people across the zone and put a lot of time into talking to players in particular and pointing out the pathway to playing in the Australian Country Championships.
Some officials were difficult to budge but gradually the doors were knocked down and the DFI- GJ Clarke Carnival involving the Riverland, Mallee, Hills and Hills Country Leagues was born.
The event will be played at Karoonda on Saturday June 11th.
An Under 17 competition will also be part of the day.
This season with the SA Championships to be held at Port Lincoln the expense of getting the Eastern party to the venue, sensibly by plane, was also a challenge with reduced funding apparently available from the Country Football Council.
But Kevin Roberts has also featured here obtaining tremendous support for the exercise.
Sub Committees in the individual Leagues have neen formed and in the Riverland Craig Wooldridge is a major player.
Again sponsorship for the local teams has been an issue but companies like Almondco have been acknowkledged by Craig for their generous support.
This is ground breaking news for not only the Riverland League but also for the Eastern Zone to hopefully fall into a new and more professional and cooperative era.
And it further opens up opportunities for the many fine players across the zone.
Let us hope for some permanancy in the issue.