Players quitting over high fees
SPORTING groups are often the foundation of any community but some players in the Central Highlands are reportedly turning their back on clubs because of rising registration fees.
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"Not everybody in this town works for a mine and you've got people who are struggling so it's not attainable for your normal person," one local netball player said.
"Even if you do work in mining and you do have a family and the mum and the kids play, it becomes too expensive for anyone to play.
"People have to make a decision - you can't play two or three different sports which lots of people tend to do.
"We had some people pull out of our team because they were already playing touch, which has got high fees as well, and they couldn't justify paying both sets of fees."
Emerald Netball Association however feels the $230-a-season registration fee is justified, with a $162 chunk of that covering state body and weekly operating costs.
Excluding expenditures beyond their control, the club said the actual ENA membership cost is just $18 per player.
One local touch player said his team was also feeling the pinch from rising playing costs.
"I've been playing touch for 12 years and I want to play - I love my touch footy - but we've had players pull out because of the fees," the touch source said.
"Some of our players have families to support.
"In NZ the highest you would be paying is $60 or $70 dollars a season. Here you're looking at $100 per comp.
"It was only about $80 up to a couple of seasons ago."
Emerald Touch Association spokeswoman Wendy Lawrence said the costs broke down to about $6 per game, which, after discussion with the committee, she felt was "very fair".
"All clubs have expenses - it just doesn't run itself," Lawrence said.
"If anyone asks about the breakdown of touch football, just ask them to come along to our next meeting and we will gladly let them know."
Fees can always be adjusted to suit the demands and meet the ongoing costs. But what they can not as readily account for is the volunteer workforce which forgoes much of their personal time for committee duties.
"Clubs can give you the equipment and fields, but all clubs need a lot more help than money to keep them running," she said.
"Time from volunteers is what we need."
Emerald Netball too has felt the strain of a thinning volunteer base, so this year has incorporated a $50 volunteer fee in individual registration, which is refunded at season's end provided the player volunteers a minimum of four hours for the club.
"The fee was introduced in an effort to reduce the workload of our volunteers and reward people for contributing to the association in some capacity," ENA spokeswoman Debbie Hall said.
"Apart from the volunteering fee, this is an increase of $15 on last year and despite the change in fee structure, our membership numbers in 2012 are the highest they have ever been.
"Committees work tirelessly in fundraising and seeking sponsorship to try and keep the fees as low as possible.
"I don't believe any sport goes out of its way to purposely make its fees too high but the reality is running a sporting organisation is expensive."
Netball and touch football players are not alone in their struggle to keep up with the financial demands, with many other clubs around the region also seeking registration fees in the hundreds of dollars.