Bega & Tathra confirm 2024 partnership

Following several weeks of internal committee level discussion, and conversation with AFL Sapphire Coast, Bega Valley Bombers and Tathra Sea Eagles have made the decision to form a Joint Venture for the 2024 season.

Both clubs currently are struggling to field full, independent teams in all grades, volunteer availability has made committing to individual teams difficult. This decision has been made in the best interests of ensuring all participants can continue to play footy within their local community.

AFL Sapphire Coast, Bega Valley Bombers and Tathra Sea Eagles met Wednesday last week and finalised the Joint Venture which will run throughout the entirety of 2024.

In a joint statement, Imogen Champagne and Cymmon Parker referenced the JV, and explained how it will impact this year’s players.

“We are excited to announce that our clubs are joining forces for the 2024 season.”

“This is an initiative that will benefit both clubs by strengthening both player and volunteer numbers.”

“Increased player numbers means stronger teams with team morale remaining high. Increased volunteer numbers means more people to share the load and more time to relax and enjoy the footy.”

“There is a slight change in routine, with junior training Thursdays from 4:30pm at Roy Howard Oval, Bega until the end of School Holidays, before moving to Lawrence Park Tathra for the remainder of the season. Seniors will train in Bega on Tuesdays, and Tathra on Thursdays from 5:45pm.”

Throughout the season, AFL NSW/ACT Club Development Coordinator Samad Shaikh will work closely with the two clubs to best support the clubs during this season and assist in future planning. This support will be vital to ensuring the Joint Venture is successful, and provides the best experience for the clubs’ players, families, and volunteers.

This decision understandably impacts the competition fixture for 2024 which will see a slight delay to the final fixture being released for 2024. Currently the clubs are working on combined teams in Under-9s, Under-11s, Under-13s, Under-15s, Under-16s Girls, Under-17s, and Men’s.

Meanwhile, the club will enter two combined Women’s teams, ensuring every player between the two clubs can play AFL every week. The structure of these teams is still being finalised, and rules will be developed with respect to player movement between the teams.

Where possible, the fixture will be managed for these sides to maintain alignment for these Women’s sides. There will be flexibility with match times to ensure the any side split from their club is also supported when playing against the Tathra-Bega Women’s teams. 

Casey White, Competition and Community Football Manager supported the decision of the two clubs to join forces in 2024.

“AFL Sapphire Coast endorses the decision to merge Bega Valley Bombers and Tathra Sea Eagles and will now continue supporting the clubs to create a positive experience for players at the club this season.”

“Bega and Tathra have worked collaboratively throughout this process, currently finalising training, and coaching arrangements for their teams in addition to uniform arrangements.”

“It is important for all to note that AFL Sapphire Coast are committed to ensuring AFL football can sustainably continue to be played in the Bega/Tathra region long-term.”

“A sustainable AFL Sapphire Coast competition has a sustainable AFL landscape in Tathra and Bega. We acknowledge that this will be different to previous years, but we think this will create a great player experience for everyone, with closer games and more fun.”

From a matchday perspective, AFL Sapphire Coast will work with Tathra and Bega to fixture matches at both clubs’ home grounds in 2024 and will manage the matchday experience accordingly where there are two teams in a grade.

Opposition clubs will have scope to amend match times where necessary splits occur between overflow venue and Tathra/Bega or when matches are played at both grounds on the same weekend.