By Michael Giles

THE West Gippsland Football Netball League is not the AFL?
They are not competing for airtime with the National Rugby League competition or any other.
Some players in the senior grades get decent salaries while the season is going but the vast majority of players either don’t get paid or receive meagre expense money.
Some might get a free Xbox to play which is a novel way of trying to attract juniors but also indicates problems at the grassroots level.
The club volunteers, the mums and dads who have to come along and support their family members are doing it for the love of it.
So why in God’s name did West Gippsland decide to start the football/netball season last Saturday, March 23 when summer sports are still in full swing with dozens of people involved?
No wonder people are giving it away in droves.
It’s been a time-honoured convention for years that there’s a week’s break in October between footy and cricket, while the football and netball season was never supposed to start until April 1 or the first Saturday after that.
In the country, especially in areas like Inverloch, Yarram and Cowes where there are big Easter holiday crowds, those clubs sought to capitalise by having a one-off match as a fundraiser and a chance to bring visiting family groups and supporters together.
But that has now become the norm every year, and this year we are chasing the AFL with a game starting on their opening round. Why?
Country leagues should go back to starting their seasons on or after April 1, to give participants a week’s break, families some time together and club volunteers a breather.
Feature Easter games should be a rarity.
Football and netball start this week for some local clubs and we wish them all the best for the season ahead but, again, why start before April… it’s not even Easter!
It all smacks of arrogance by the allegedly dominant code, and as ABC Radio’s Coodabeens are likely to have said it’s time league officials had a GHLAT.