Since 2016 the Central West AFL has operated as a one-tier competition, the change made leading into that year in a bid to minimise the routine thrashings the larger clubs were handing out and make the league, holistically, more competitive.
That move has largely been hailed a success but there has still been big issues, namely the fact 2016 flag-winners Cowra didn't compete in the men’s competition this year while Young and Mudgee aren’t fielding any sides.
Parkes didn’t field a men’s side in 2017 either, but did return to the competition this year and showed plenty of promise.
Earlier this year CWAFL’s governing body proposed to move back to a two-tier system in a bid to rebuild the smaller clubs without impacting their larger counterparts, and it’s been confirmed that proposal has now officially been circulated to clubs to be discussed at the league’s annual general meeting later this month.
In a nutshell, the proposal suggests a two-tier men’s structure and keeps in place the single tier women’s league, albeit a potentially expanded one.
The Premier League would be CWAFL’s showcase league and would be contested over 15 weeks by the best of the men’s sides, effectively the big four – the Bathurst Bushrangers, Orange Tigers, Dubbo Demons and Bathurst Giants.
The Country Cup would be the men’s second tier for smaller communities based largely around development. Contested over 12 weeks to reduce travel impact, primarily the aim would be to assist Cowra and Young’s return with the proposal suggesting they initially face-off against Parkes and a Bushrangers development outfit.
It would be a 16-a-side competition and long-term would hopefully encourage Mudgee’s return, along with helping to identify potential areas for growth, like Lithgow or Wellington.
Should they be able to field them, development sides from Orange, the Giants and Dubbo would also be encouraged.
The Country Women’s Championship would seek to develop women’s football using the frames already in place. As a 15-week competition between the current clubs with Young hopefully included too, it would also include representative opportunities.
The proposal is open for broad discussion to decide how best, if at all, to implement it.
At the AGM on October 21 it will be discussed and decided on in consultation with the regional committee and AFL NSW, with a timeline to be set as well.