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Cougars ready to debut


All ears in Horsham District football will be listening for what unfolds at Kaniva on Saturday as a new-look competition finally gets underway.

After months of speculation, former Kowree-Naracoorte-Tatiara league club Kaniva-Leeor United takes on traditional Horsham district powerhouse Kalkee in a fascinating introductory round.

It remains to be seen just where Kaniva-Leeor United will settle in the competition’s pecking order but a quick look at clearance activity more than suggests the Cougars have been busy.

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The Cougars’ incoming list appears impressive but will mean little until players run onto the ground.

Club president Jason ‘Chippa’ Gordon agreed player movements since the announcement of the club’s shift was like a revolving door with many coming and going. But he was more reserved about suggestions the team might have done more than simply plug a few holes in a growing senior list.

“We’ve been doing a lot of running around making sure the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed. Hopefully our recruits play and everyone continues to gel. We’ve lost a lot and gained a few but are generally pleased with player attendance. Everyone is very excited about the coming season,” he said.

“We don’t know where we really sit and we’ll just have to wait and see. I’ll be relieved when we get three sides on the park and nothing else goes majorly wrong. It’s hard enough at the start of any year. But changing leagues and everything that goes with it makes it all that harder.

“We just love our footy and want to see it played in Kaniva as long it can. We can only hope we can have as good a relationship in Victoria as we had in South Australia.

“We’re very excited as a community and our aim this year is the same as last year – to get girls on the court and boys on the ground.”

Potent core

The Cougars meet the traditionally strong Kees in a game that should provide some indication of the strength of the respective teams.

Kalkee has had a potent administrative core and a solid leadership panel under Stuart Farr. The awkward nature of the build-up because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the absence of a 2020 season means there has never been more mystery surrounding club prospects.

Will the status quo remain where clubs that have struggled in the past continue to struggle or will the year-long chance to re-set change the football environment?

There is plenty of expectation surrounding reigning premier Harrow-Balmoral being the team to beat – but is it really?

The Southern Roos have one of the largest followings in the competition and take on Pimpinio in a first-up encounter at Balmoral.

Then there is Edenhope-Apsley, out west from similar climes as Kaniva-Leeor United. How have the Saints, the standard bearer for the lakes and wetlands country, fared in the pre-season build-up?

They meet the northern Grampians flagship force Laharum on the large Edenhope ground.

Natimuk United always generates plenty of pre-season chatter and will have a chance to back some of it up against Rupanyup, which while often seemingly on the back foot, tends to pull an occasional rabbit out of the hat.

And with their Wimmera league counterpart Stawell off to a flying start, will Swifts mirror results when travelling to Quantong to take on Noradjuha-Quantong?

Jeparit-Rainbow, on the fringe of the Wimmera and southern Mallee, will also be keen to get off to a flyer. The Storm might take some confidence into a contest against Taylors Lake at Rainbow but could the Lakers come up with an early season surprise?

It will most likely take several weeks of settling before the competition’s movers and shakers become obvious and players settle.

This week: Harrow-Balmoral v Pimpinio at Balmoral, Edenhope-Apsley v Laharum at Edenhope, Kaniva-Leeor United v Kalkee, Natimuk United v Rupanyup, Noradjuha-Quantong v Swifts, Jeparit-Rainbow v Taylors Lake at Rainbow.


The entire April 7, 2021 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!