A CRIMINAL investigation has been launched into an assault in a Ballarat Football League under-age match between East Point and Darley.
The assault on Saturday left an East Point player in hospital with a broken jaw after being struck by a Darley footballer in an off-the-ball incident in an under-18.5 game.
The injured player is being treated at Footscray’s Western Hospital after undergoing surgery on Sunday night.
An independent investigator has been hired to act on behalf of the league, while Ballarat Crime Investigation Unit is investigating the matter.
Darley Football Club has also launched an investigation into the incident, which adds to a string of controversies surrounding the football club this year.
In the past month alone, a Devils supporter racially verbally attacked respected Aboriginal elder Ted Lovett; senior player Drew Edwards was suspended for clashing with North Ballarat City supporters during a game; and another player was suspended for breaking North City star Derick Micallef’s nose off the ball.
Darley president Grant Wright admitted his club was in desperate need of a culture change, made even more evident by the latest incident.
“We need to change the culture, there is no doubt,” Wright told The Courier.
“If I was to say we don’t need to change the culture I should resign from my role was president. There have been six or seven instances this year ... if we don’t accept there’s an issue then we’ve got our head in the sand.
“The buck stops with me as president. We’re going to have to work around the clock but something has to change,” he said.
The injured East Point player is of Aboriginal descent, although both Wright and Kangaroos president Maurice O’Keefe said there was no suggestion racism was involved in the incident.
It is expected he will miss the rest of the season with the broken jaw.
O’Keefe said although the club was deeply disappointed in what had happened, the Darley committee deserved praise for the way it had handled the incident.
“It’s an incident that should not have happened, but it did and now we have to work through it,” O’Keefe said.
“I feel for the Darley Football Club, which are working hard to try to do the right thing and the minority ruin it for the rest of them.”
Ballarat Crime Investigation Unit detectives are investigating after a player received a broken jaw during a football match on Saturday.