Carnival loses its lustre

Peter FiorenzaGeraldton Guardian

I attended the 2017 Landmark Football Country Championships in Perth at the weekend, as part of a radio broadcast team.

The event has been running continuously since the late 1960s and is a unique event.

It’s something I have always looked forward too, but it would seem the event is steadily losing its attraction.

In the 1960s and 70s the championships brought country leagues from around the State together once a year to pit their skills against each other.

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The GNNFL (now the GNFL) first won the event in 1969.

The team was coached by the famous Maurie Drennan and captained by Northampton’s Murray Criddle.

That team would have comprised the best footballers of the area, and the win would have told everyone our region had a strong, vibrant competition.

Even up until the 1980s, players would be desperate to make the line-up, but today it is a different story.

There are a number of factors that have contributed to this.

Firstly, the fact Geraldton is a much bigger centre now and sport is not the only social hub.

Changing lifestyles have also had an impact, such as people’s work patterns, and job structures.

Perhaps more importantly, farming communities have altered greatly, to the point there are simply a lot less people working on the land.

The WA Football Commission has tried to invigorate the carnival in recent years by creating a round-robin series of matches over a shorter time and holding part of the event at country locations.

The moves have received mixed reactions.

So what is this telling us?

It would seem the decline in the popularity of the championships is a symptom of a much bigger change I believe is affecting our social structure.

The decline of people working on the land has meant a decline in farming communities.

Towns are shrinking, with some disappearing altogether.

Strong football teams in country WA once meant vibrant rural communities.

Things are not in great shape at the moment.

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