A DECISION by the Mornington Peninsula Junior Football League to play its finals on Saturdays is forcing some players to choose between playing basketball or football.
Clubs in the MPJFL usually play on Sundays, allowing many team members to play other sports on a Saturday without fear of a scheduling conflict.
“Many children play basketball on a Saturday, so now we’re in a position where the finals fixtures clash with us because they’re played on a Saturday too,” Mornington District Basketball Association general manager Samantha Browne said.
“When the children signed up to play football they were of the understanding they would be playing on a Sunday.”
Ms Browne said the basketball association was unable to change its fixture this late in the season, leaving children “in a position where they’ll have to either forfeit their football matches or their basketball matches”.
“We should be able to work together to avoid these situations, because we know that having children play multiple sports is really healthy. All this is doing is making children choose and putting kids in really difficult positions,” she said.
The full junior football finals fixture for 2018 was released on 22 July. All finals last year outside of the junior, intermediate and youth girls’ games were played on a Sunday.
MPJFL senior vice-president Paul Lonsdale said the league tried its best to find a ground for all finals on a Sunday, but the lack of availability made Saturday finals a “last resort”.
“Junior football is growing so much it’s just so hard to hold finals all on the same day,” he said.
“We don’t have the grounds and the time, it’s very difficult. We would have loved to have a three or four ground facility, we approached Mt Eliza but with their seniors teams playing finals they shot us down.
“There are 28 finals to be played and we can only realistically fit 13 in one day on a two-oval set up. We know it was late timing, but we tried finding a three-oval setup and this was our last resort, it wasn’t that we were trying upset anybody, we were just trying to find another avenue to stop this from happening.”
Mr Lonsdale said the MPJFL was “working really hard” to avoid a repeat of the problem next year.
“There’s a decision to be made for players and now we’re going to lose players back to netball and basketball too; it’s hard to try and please everyone but we were working hard to get everything on a Sunday.
“We thought long and hard about it and we had no other options. We want to make sure we get on with all codes, but the size of our league and the ground availability is making it harder and harder.”