Football clubs are part of the social fabric of small towns, especially in Victoria. At the end of the 2022 Golden Rivers Football Netball League, the Quambtook Football Netball Club has made the tough decision to dissolve—leaving the small Quambatook community without a major sporting event every Saturday.
Quambatook is a town on the Avoca River in Victoria’s northwest, with a population of 249 in the 2016 Census, a drop from the population of 361 recorded in 2011.
The town itself is recognised as the ‘tractor pulling capital of Australia’, with an annual Australian Tractor Pull Championships taking place in Quambatook which has been held every Easter since 1976. It’s also the town where legendary Australian country musician, John Williamson, grew up.
But with population numbers dwindling, and an ever-ageing population, the football netball club has been struggling to build for the future.
“The club has been struggling for years with juniors and getting volunteers and community members. It does take a lot to run a club nowadays,” he said.
“The community is ageing, there are less and less people, it’s just hard to get people to do things. [The pandemic] definitely didn’t help, but it is what it is.” club president Rhys Carmichael—in his first year as president, no less—told ABC News.
Suggestions that the dissolution of the club will be the end of the town have been dismissed by Quambatook locals.
“We have always got the bowls club, so maybe we will all become mad bowlers or golfers,” she said. The ongoing impact of this is we won’t have footballers anymore to volunteer for other things around town.”
“Since the tractor pull has been running, the football club has been the security and the gate entrance traffic controllers, so it’s going to be another struggle to find people to fill those gaps as well.” president of the Community Development Association, Laura O’Dwyer also told ABC News.