THE NEW ERA IS HERE: New comp to start
SOFTBALL: A focus on improving juniors playing the sport has helped create the biggest shake-up in softball in years.
Bundaberg clubs Bargara, The Waves and Brothers have joined up with the Hervey Bay Softball Association to form a new competition that will start this Saturday.
Games will be played in both Hervey Bay and Bundaberg, with the clubs to play at Brothers Sports Club on the Aussie Rules ground.
There will be four teams in women's A-Grade with seven locked in at this stage in the men's competition.
A women's B-Grade team that competed as Western Suburbs last season has moved across to Bargara to compete in the competition as well.
The Western Suburbs club, as a whole, will not be moving to the Hervey Bay competition.
South Sluggers are also likely to join as the eighth men's side but that hasn't been confirmed yet.
Bargara president Belinda Nicol said the move was tough but change was needed.
"We wanted a family environment for our clubs," she said.
"I'm excited to see what it will bring and what will happen to softball.
"It was tricky to do but I feel we have made the right decision."
The move has been in the pipeline for a few months, with all teams now affiliated with Hervey Bay.
The change has also received approval from Softball Queensland.
This means Bundaberg representative players from the three clubs - Bargara, The Waves and Brothers - will play for Hervey Bay in state competitions.
"We haven't had the numbers to field full teams in years and we've recently played with Logan and Rockhampton," Nicol said.
"We've seen in the past few years junior numbers decline so we need to improve that.
"We just want to play softball and make the environment a fun one for players and spectators."
Essentially this is the reason the clubs made the move, which has the full support of Brothers and The Waves.
All sides will field teams in under-12s, U14 and U17.
"All of our clubs are aligned," The Waves women's coach Lee-Anne O'Leary said.
"It was something we really needed to do for the sport to be healthy again."
Similar to the famous Super League wars in rugby league in 1997, the competition will run in conjunction with the Bundaberg Softball Association's new season.
There will now be two competitions in Bundaberg.
Nicol said she hoped one day it would all come back together again.
"One hundred per cent, I would like to think we'll return," she said.
"I hope we'll be back but this needed to happen this season."
The BSA declined to comment.
A spokesperson said the competition will be running this season and the association would make an official statement later this week.
The new competitions start on Saturday.