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Riverland Independent Football League release proposed new name as RFL split progresses

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The Riverland Independent Football League will be known as the Murray Valley Football and Netball League from next season if the split from the current governing body is successful.

Known locally as the “independents”, the league is considered the second tier of the sport in the region and is governed by the Riverland Football League (RFL) council.

The RFL also operates the region’s “top-tier” football league, known as the Riverland Football League.

In March, a South Australian National Football League (SANFL) committee passed motions that would allow the independents to split from the RFL and run their own league with their own board.

A logo with a red and black background and a blue river running through it with the words Murray Valley Football and Netball League
The proposed Murray Valley Football and Netball League logo.Supplied: Murray Valley Football and Netball League

Since then, the clubs have been negotiating with the SANFL and the RFL board about how the split would work and when it would take effect.

SANFL Riverland operations officer Shane Uren said the proposed league was to set up a committee, but the process was nearing completion.

“We need real evidence that the new league will be able to establish itself constitutionally,” he said.

“We just need to make sure all the boxes are checked so we can go to (SANFL) Community Football and they’ll say we’re all set.”

A man in a red and white football uniform tries to catch a ball for him.
The seven independent football clubs are all expected to participate in the proposed Murray Valley Football and Netball League.Supplied: Grant Schwartzkopff

Mr Uren added that the “unique” nature of the way football was run in the Riverland had created scheduling issues.

“For people from outside the region, they were a little bit dubious about the necessity of the split at first and so they made some caveats,” he said.

A player wearing a white, purple and green soccer uniform and holding a soccer ball preparing to kick.
The proposed MVFNL clubs and the SANFL hope that a new league will give clubs a greater say in their future.Supplied: Grant Schwartzkopff

Netball and football to come together

The Riverland Independent Netball League consists of the same clubs and organizes competitions in conjunction with football, but has already managed itself.

The proposed league would formally bring together the independent football and korfball leagues for the first time.

A woman in a purple netball uniform with a netball ready to pass.
The independent korfball competition comes under the same administration as the football competition.Supplied: Grant Schwartzkopff

Hayley Kain, president of the Riverland Independent Netball League, said the move will streamline decision-making.

“We will be able to combine and only have one committee so that we can make decisions together instead of waiting for the footballers to decide on things like the games,” she said.

“We have six small clubs and a limited number of volunteers and we are all distributed in different ways, so it would be a huge advantage to bring everything together and form one committee.”

Two women, one in a blue netball uniform and another in a red uniform, compete to catch a ball.
Both korfball and soccer teams play at the same time and in the same place as each other in the independent league. Supplied: Grant Schwartzkopff

Ms Kain said the netball league’s previous experience of running its own league meant it was well placed for the league’s launch in 2023.

She said all independent clubs are hopeful to grow their player numbers in both sports if the proposed new competition is successful.

“We hope that we can add some new players and strengthen the competition. Especially for korfball, there is always room for more degrees if necessary.”

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