AFL Northern Territory (AFLNT) advises that the Big River Hawks Football Club has been withdrawn from the TIO NTFL Women’s Premier League for the remainder of the 2019/20 TIO NTFL season.
Due to several reasons, the club submitted three forfeits throughout the course of the season (the most recent being in Round 14), and as such is in breach of AFLNT Rules and Regulations (2019/20 edition), rule 3.14.2.
Where any team forfeits a total of three (3) Minor Round matches in any one season, that team will be removed from the Competition in which it is participating. In such circumstances, the following will apply:
(a) Minor Round matches deemed to be forfeited matches due to player eligibility rules or exceeding the playing number rules will not be considered when calculating forfeited matches under this rule.
(b) All matches that a team removed from a Competition at any time during the season pursuant to this Rule is scheduled to participate in shall be reflected as a bye for the remaining rounds of the season.
(c) A team scheduled to have a bye round as a consequence of Rule 3.14.2(b) may make an application for dispensation to qualify a player for finals in the current season if:
i. that player has only one match remaining to qualify; and
ii. the bye round occurs in the last three rounds of the home and away season.
As such, the teams scheduled to play the Big River Hawks in Rounds 15, 16, 17 and 18 will now be given a bye. The same rule has been applied to other divisions where a team has been removed.
AFLNT Manager of Community Football, Emily Wastle-Hopkins said AFLNT would meet with the Big River Hawks to plan for the future.
“We understand that a variety of unfortunate reasons but namely player unavailability led to the Big River Hawks forfeits in the Women’s Premier League.
“At the time of their submission to be part of the competition we had no reason or evidence to suggest that they’d be unable to play the full season.
“We are planning to get down to Katherine in the coming weeks so we will meet with the club and draw on the strategy work we’ve already done in the region, which talks to how best to strengthen local footy. We will also unpack what needs to happen to allow for future NTFL ambitions or the like.
“Internally, we will also look at our NTFL submissions process and tighten what we can,” she said.
Thomas Manning from the Big Rivers Hawks Committee said he hoped the community would continue to support the club.
"There are real challenges for some of our players, coming from communities throughout the region who have to travel on a weekly basis to get to games. It’s been a real challenge for some of our players and this led to us having to sadly forfeit games. Everyone knows the challenges our young players face at home.
"It’s not just a team, it takes a significant group of community support and volunteers to make this happen and on behalf of the Big River Hawks Committee, I’d like to say thank you to all those that helped us throughout the season and continue to support the Under 18 Boys team.
"Our 18 Boys haven’t finished their season and we’re focused on supporting them this Sunday at Garden’s Oval as they play against the Waratah in the curtain-raiser before the Men's Premier League," he said.