Suns to rise in 2026

May 29, 2024 9:56 pm in by

The Bellarine Football Netball League will expand to 11 teams for the first time in its more than 50-year history in 2026 when the Surf Coast Suns join the competition.

The Suns, who started life as a junior club based at North Torquay in 2016, had their application to join the competition unanimously ratified by the AFL Barwon Commission at a special meeting tonight (Wednesday).

It follows a meeting with Surf Coast on Monday and the league’s ten clubs earlier tonight after what AFL Barwon says was “significant deliberation” between the local governing body and Surf Coast.

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“This decision marks a significant moment for both the Bellarine FNL and the Surf Coast FNC,” a statement from AFL Barwon said.

“With a total participant base across male football and netball programs exceeding 400, an under-18
male football side and several years of top-age netballers’ participation restricted, this decision
provides Surf Coast FNC (with) a platform for the future and will contribute significantly to the future success of the Bellarine FNL”

Surf Coast has met the League Entry Criteria coverining facilities, financials, participation and club development.

Discussions have also been held around the Suns’ strategic plan, the move to senior and football, and how they will be a viable member of the Bellarine.

The decision comes a week after AFL Barwon confirmed a club interested in becoming the Bellarine’s 12th team had withdrawn its application.

Surf Coast’s entry will be the first change to the competition’s open-age football dynamic since Modewarre joined from the GDFL in 1996.

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The Suns will provide the first new open-age teams to take to the field in the region since the now-defunct St Leonards joined the BDFL in 1985.

The introduction of the Suns will likely see AFL Barwon adopt a 20-round season where each team plays 18 home-and-away games and has two byes.

Under this model, clubs would have return meetings with eight clubs and play two clubs once in a season.

The GFNL used a similar schedule when it was an 11-team competition between 1992-2000.

More to come

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X: @krockfootball


1971: Following the dissolution of the Polwarth League, Leopold, Ocean Grove, Portarlington, Queenscliff, Torquay and Winchelsea are joined by GDFL clubs Barwon Heads and Drysdale to form the Bellarine and District Football League.

1973: Anglesea joins from the GDFL.

1976: Newly-formed Newcomb enters the competition.

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1982: Winchelsea departs for the Colac and District League.

1985: Newly-formed St Leonards enters the competition.

1991: St Leonards leaves for the GDFL after Round 1. Leopold departs for the GFL.

1995: Geelong Amateur joins from the GDFL.

1996: Modewarre joins from the GDFL

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2026: Surf Coast Suns to enter the competition.