FOLLOWING a tumultuous off-season, the Picola and District Football Netball League is ready for 2018.
Having started last week with a one-off Good Friday match between Tocumwal and Berrigan, the season starts for the rest of the competition this Saturday.
And league general manager Shane Railton could not be happier.
‘‘We are really excited to continue to give people the opportunity to play football and netball,’’ Railton said.
The league will feature 13 clubs across both its netball and football competition this season.
Railton said the league was proud to give people the opportunity to be involved in sport.
‘‘In communities like this, sport is a wonderful thing,’’ Railton said.
‘‘It keeps people involved and around good people. There are a lot of bad influences in communities that people can easily become trapped in. We love that we give people the opportunity to be involved in something that can hopefully keep them on the right track.’’
Following the departure of four clubs to the Murray league and the Kyabram District league, the PDFNL will return to a single division for 2018.
The move has been greeted with great support from within the competition.
‘‘We’ve had a number of clubs who have wanted to return to a single competition instead of the two for a while now,’’ Railton said.
‘‘What we really enjoy about going to one division is seeing how these clubs match up against each other. It opens up to more great contests and rivalries to be born, which is great for everyone involved.’’
The league admitted disappointment at the loss of clubs, but showed no hard feelings towards those that left.
‘‘Unfortunately we have lost a couple of clubs,’’ Railton said.
‘‘It’s a shame that has happened but we don’t hold any grudges, we hope they all have great seasons and continue to be strong clubs.’’
While the changes to the league threw a spanner into the works at a late stage, Railton is optimistic about what the start of the season will bring.
The new fixture includes two local rivals opening their seasons against one another, with Mathoura and Picola United to play off in round one.
Railton said the game will be a gauge of where the two clubs currently sit.
‘‘You have one side who have won back-to-back premierships and are obviously an incredibly good club in Picola United,’’ Railton said.
‘‘You’ve also got a really young side at Mathoura who are going into the year with probably the best feeling that has been around the club in a few years. It will be great to see how these two clubs go up against each other.’’