Legal action forces softball comp to move local games

HERVEY Bay Softball Association has been threatened with legal action that could cause an early end to their season.

Players were scheduled to return to the diamond today for the 12th round of their new-look competition after a month-long mid-season break, but the ultimatum from Bundaberg Softball Association will mean Wide Bay softballers are stuck on the sideline.

Bundaberg Softball Association and Hervey Bay Softball Association have been at loggerheads since October, 2017, when three BSA-affiliated clubs left the organisation.

Waves, Brothers United and Bargara chose to compete in HBSA's competitions instead of the BSA, providing Hervey Bay-affiliated players and clubs their biggest competition in years.

In this competition, which includes all age groups from under-12s to senior A-grade, two Bundaberg teams play at Brothers' grounds while the third plays at Hervey Bay.

Hervey Bay takes its teams to Bundaberg once every month.

Hervey Bay previously sent teams to play in Maryborough Softball Association's competitions, but withdrew before this season due to the Bundaberg clubs' arrival.

Players involved in the HSBA competition are then eligible to represent Hervey Bay at Softball Queensland's state championships. The addition of three clubs, along with hundreds of players, would have allowed HBSA to hold representative trials for the first time.

Hervey Bay had planned to hold trials for its under-15 male and female representative teams at Brothers United's Faircloth Cres, Bundaberg. complex on Sunday.

HBSA president Donna Jenkins said the association received correspondence on Thursday that required the association to change those plans, and seek legal advice.

It is understood BSA issued an ultimatum: mediation, or legal action.

On Monday, January 8, BSA provided a press release in which it advised the governing body had never entered into competition agreements with HBSA, and "did not endorse any competition that has been arranged that may be played at grounds within the Bundaberg region".

Under Softball Queensland's constitution, a District Softball Association will "organise and control inter-club softball competition within its own district".

BSA president John Nairn said he would have had no problem with the competition if the constitutions, particularly in regard to playing conditions, were respected.

A Softball Queensland statement said the board did not support legal action between associations.

"Softball Queensland's position has been and continues to be that the parties need to participate in an independent mediation process focussed on achieving an outcome satisfactory to all parties," the statement read.

"Softball Queensland does not support any legal action between member associations.

"With regard to the three clubs moving their membership, all softball clubs have the right to determine which District Softball Association they affiliate with and, as such, permission of SQI is not required.

"SQI has met with members of BSA and the clubs and continues to look for strategies to resolve the matters and to support the Associations in participating in any discussions between them in a helpful way, focussing on achieving beneficial outcomes.

"Communication channels have been, and remain, open to support all parties to ensure softball continues to be played in the region and for the Associations to focus on achieving appropriate outcomes for their membership and to ensure that members are retained in the sport."

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