For many decades, the town of Bingara has hosted an All Schools Sports Carnival on a Saturday in May. The attending schools, large and small, come from all over the area to compete in three sports, Rugby League, Netball and Soccer.
It is a tribute to the schools, their teachers, parents and students that they make this effort, on a Saturday, to travel, and play several games throughout the day.
This year, the Carnival will take place, in Bingara, on Saturday, May 31, but a worrying trend has started to show. The total number of participating students is down, and the number of teams in each of the sports, indicates to me that one code has a lot of work to do to keep itself relevant in the junior ranks.
A comparison of the 2007 entries to those received for 2008, shows,
Soccer, 2007 16 teams, 2008 18 teams. Netball, 2007 49 teams, 2008 45 teams. Rugby League, 2007 39 teams, 2008 19 teams.
Having had two sons play for several years with the Bingara Minor League, I can testify to the efforts made by the local committees to provide an excellent winter sport. That was over ten years ago, and although the committees are just as keen today, the up-take of kids to play League has declined. Bingara Minor League was unable to field one age team this year.
There are probably a number of reasons for the decline of League, but I can’t help but wonder if the ARL in its pursuit of big TV dollars, has neglected its roots. I am left wondering where will their players come from ten years from now.