To the AFL South East community,
It is with a degree of sadness, but also with some anticipation that I advise that this Friday 6 March will be my final day at AFL South East.
I advised the Commission prior to Christmas that I was looking to enter part-time retirement. As a result, AFL Victoria will be restructuring the region, with the appointment of a new Head of South East Victoria to be announced shortly.
In the three years leading AFL South East, there have been a number of highs (and a few blips), which overall has contributed to very strong growth across the Mornington Peninsula and South East region.
Here are some of the positives that I can take away with me (in no particular order):
- The financial turnaround in several of the leagues we administer, eg MPNFL & FDJFL in particular. All Leagues under AFLSE are now in strong financial positions and are in a position to invest in the future of football.
- The establishment of an MPNFL Divisional structure has made the competition the best in the State. Probably one of the most memorable matches in community football history was the Pines v Sorrento Grand Final before a packed house in 2018. I hope the competition continues to grow in strength and that all clubs prosper.
- The development of Netball to the point where we now have 106 teams registered.
- We have had a terrific focus on football development. Apart from junior competition growth, we are the largest Auskick region with an increase from 4600 in 2016 to 5043 Auskickers in 2019.
- The growth in participation numbers in our junior competition. Over the past three years the FDJFL number of teams has grown by 34 percent and the number of registered participants has grown by 49 percent.
- In the South East Juniors region, the re-establishment of North Dandenong and the new clubs at Cardinia and Clyde will continue to grow football across the region.
- I personally congratulate the FDJ and SEJ clubs for their almost unanimous support for the Regional Top-Age competition. We now have competitive divisions for U15 & U17 Boys and U16 & U18 girls who will greatly assist participation in the future.
- The establishment of strong relationships with our key NAB League, VFL and AFL Club partners.
- The growth of women’s football across the region is enormous. Our SEWF competition commenced in 2017, and we see clubs across the Peninsula and surrounding regions continually entering new teams across the three divisional structure.
- There has been significant growth in the number of umpires, particularly in the young age groups. We now manage a total of 650 men in yellow.
- Being associated with some fantastic people who give their heart and soul for their clubs as volunteers. I admire the time and commitment many of you give.
I am appreciative of the continued support of our commercial and media partners and our strong relationships with five local councils.
And finally, I want to say thanks to the Commission and AFL South East staff. Each member of staff is dedicated to the growth of football and netball across AFLSE. They are continually dealing with difficult situations, but my mantra has always been that they act in the best interests of the sport. That does not make everyone happy, but the decisions will usually be for the best. All staff have been a great support to me, as has been Chairman Roger Hampson and the Commissioners.
I wish everyone all the best for the future and I look forward to following the progress of clubs across the region.