Sunbury Kangaroos are officially on the move

Allan Walters, Craig Armstead and Mick Streiff.

By Tara Murray

Sunbury Kangaroos senior teams will play in the Essendon District Football League from next year after the club’s move from the Riddell District Football Netball League got the tick of the approval.

The EDFL announced on Monday that the Kangaroos application to join the league had been approved by AFL Victoria and the club would join the league full time next year.

The Kangaroos had long discussed the possible move to the EDFL, with it going to a vote of a club members in October. Members voted 96-3 in favour of the move. The junior club has decided to remain in the RDFNL.

Speaking following the decision, Kangaroos president Allan Walters said it was the perfect time for the club to make the move.

Their women’s side played in the EDFL this season.

“After a lot of hard work that has been going on behind the scenes for well over 12 months, it’s good to have both men and women playing under the one umbrella,” he said.

“It has been three years since our first initial discussion with the EDFL. The first year the timing probably wasn’t right and last year we left it too late. This year we were more prepared and got the ball rolling and were always one step ahead of it.”

Walters said while they enjoyed their time in the RDFNL, it was about making the best decision for the club going forward.

Netball is one area which was behind the push to move leagues, with the EDFL not having compulsory netball.

He said the club’s inability to field a full complement of netball sides had become a frustration among his club and other clubs in the RDFNL.

“At the end of the day only guaranteed one [netball] side for next season,” he said. “It’ a blessing in disguise for all parities.

“Moving forward we think it’s the best opportunity to grow our club, both football and netball. We can grow with the competition again.”

Walters said not only had club members been on board with the decision, but sponsors as well.

The club is expected to announce some new senior football signings in the coming weeks now the decision has been finalised.

Several players who will join the club had done so on the proviso that they would be playing in the EDFL.

EDFL chief executive Craig Armstead agreed that it was the perfect time for the Kangaroos’ men’s sides to come across.

“Obviously they’ve had teams in the competition, so they’re not an entirely new club for us,  we’re delighted to have them,” he said.

“We think they can bring quite a bit to our men’s program.”

The Kangaroos have decided to start in division 2 and work their way up the ranks. Armstead said that’s a decision they support saying they have taken direction for the club.

The move means the league now has two senior Sunbury men’s clubs in the competition, in the Kangaroos and East Sunbury.

The Sunbury Lions female program is also in the EDFL.

Armstead said the area was an important part of their area geographically.

“It’s an important area geographically and a good connection into our area,” he said. “I see it as an outer metropolitan Melbourne suburb.”

“We’re looking at where our footprint and growth is. We have to be strategic and it’s not a grab from where ever we can and it’s not the case with Sunbury Kangaroos. We’ve gone out and spent time with them and had some really good open dialogue.

“We want the Sunbury Kangaroos to come in and be successful on and off field.”

AFL Goldfields regional manager Rod Ward said RDFNL clubs voted in favour of supporting the Kangaroos decision to leave the league.

He said the clubs felt that even if they voted against the decision, that AFL Victoria would likely approve the move anyway and it was pointless trying to stop it.

He highlighted the situation with Kilmore, where clubs voted against the move away from the RDFNL, but AFL Victoria still approved the move on appeal, as a reason why the clubs felt that way.

Ward said it was disappointing to lose the Kangaroos. The RDFNL will now have 11 senior clubs.

“The league has been very supportive in the past of the Sunbury Kangaroos.

“We are very proud that we place an equal emphasise on football and netball and Sunbury has shown they only focus on football.”