Until recently it was known as the Southern Football League (SFL), but in a historic move it has now officially become the Southern Football Netball League (SFNL). The SFNL are the first metropolitan football league in Melbourne to incorporate netball in its name.
The Southern Football Netball League was officially unveiled at the Season Launch on Saturday 11 April at Trevor Barker Oval. Guests included Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, Netball Victoria CEO Michelle Plane, beyondblue CEO Georgie Harman and St Kilda Football Club CEO Matt Finnis.
From humble beginnings in 2012 with a mere 7 teams, the League’s netball competition has grown to 51 teams playing across six divisions in 2015 and now represents approximately 35% of total league teams.
SFNL Chairman Mark Seymour endorsed the name change, explaining that the new name was a fitting reflection on the growing league.
“Since 2008, participation numbers have grown in the League by an amazing 80%. Part of that growth is attributable to the introduction of a netball competition which has grown from seven teams in one division to 51 teams in six divisions in four years,” he said.
“The SFNL is providing more and more opportunities for the community to participate in and be involved in healthy pastimes. The SFL is the fastest growing sporting organisation in Australia.”
Victorian Premier the Hon. Daniel Andrews was a notable attendee on the evening and provided his endorsement of the SFNL inclusive and diverse strategy.
“I would like to congratulate and thank the administrators and the many volunteers who have built the Southern Football Netball League into what it is today,” said Mr Andrews.
“In particular I want to congratulate the League on its great work to grow a thriving netball comp, not as a sideline but an integral part of its being, alongside its important partnership with beyondblue raising awareness of mental health issues.”
“This League is a labour of love for so many – and there’s so much done behind the scenes, whether it’s the people who wash the kits to those who manage the books – these are the people who ensure the League has gone from strength to strength.”
“The strength and resilience of community sport and recreation is indispensable to the future of our state and our suburbs. I know this League has a great future and I wish all the clubs well as the 2015 season properly gets underway.”
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews addresses the audience
The Season Launch also provided an opportunity for the SFNL to launch its new community partnership with beyondblue. The partnership will aim to increase awareness and understanding of anxiety and depression in Australia while reducing the associated stigma.
beyondblue CEO Georgie Harman praised the SFNL for partnering with beyondblue and tackling the important issues of depression and anxiety head on.
“We are grateful to be in partnership with the Southern Football Netball League,” she said.
“This relationship helps to not only raise awareness about depression and anxiety but encourages people to take action to tackle these conditions. We commend the league for its proactive stance and for working hard to ensure that its thousands of footballers, netballers and supporters know about good mental health.”
beyondblue CEO Georgie Harman addresses the room.
Netball Victoria CEO Michelle Plane welcomed and endorsed the league rebrand.
“The League has a long and proud history, and is highly regarded as a well-managed and forward thinking organisation,” Ms Plane said.
“It has shown strong vision to partner with neighbouring Associations and has worked diligently to grow netball in the past three years with 51 teams registered for 2015. This is a League with foresight and one that is well and truly on the move and we are delighted to have it as an affiliated partner.”
“We also congratulate the League on including the rapidly growing netball component of their clubs into its name, giving equal recognition and respect to all members.”
Plane also congratulated the League on the partnership with beyondblue, a visionary move from both organisations given the role community sport can play in mental health and overall wellbeing, creating important community connections.
Netball Victoria CEO Michelle Plane shares her vision.
Bayside Council, Mayor Felicity Frederico welcomed all guests to the premium Bayside facility and shared her passion for grassroots sport.
“Our grass roots community sporting clubs are not only important for our personal health but play a vital role for the community connectedness and social cohesion that is fundamental to our well being,” she said.
“They are the first metropolitan Melbourne football league to reach out and include netball in their name.”
"On behalf of Bayside I would like congratulate the Southern Football Netball League on their new name and more importantly their new and expanded membership."
Kingston Council, Mayor Geoff Gledhill was another dignitary on the night to congratulate the Southern Football Netball league on its new name and the successful launch to the new season.
“The Southern Football Netball League is an incredible organisation that adds so much to the Kingston community and beyond,” Cr Gledhill said.
“While their impressive record in the football arena is well-known, the League has also seen phenomenal growth in netball and boasts 51 teams in just four years. It is fitting that the league’s new name – Southern Football Netball League – features both football and netball, the first in metropolitan Melbourne to do so. I wish the League all the best for the season and for a successful future for many years to come.”
Kingston Mayor Geoff Gledhill speaks to invited guests.