Brett Connell – VAFA CEO
On Monday 24 June, all VAFA Divisional Clubs were invited to attend a forum at VAFA HQ where a number of relevant items were debated between clubs, themselves and the VAFA.
The pressing state of our D2-D4 divisions, in particular the byes that currently exist, was discussed openly amongst all clubs, with club’s thoughts on what potential options may be implemented for 2020 and beyond shared amongst the group.
Options such as regionalised divisions, a return to the 10 team 4 division competitions or a structure of three competitions of 12 teams were explained and discussed, with a clear indication from clubs that the 10 team, 4 division model was the preferred – with particular emphasis on the tried and tested relegation and promotion system to remain in place.
There is little doubt that our strength lies in the size of our competition, which allows for clubs to find their level at any given point in their history and compete in competitively balanced grades.
Feedback was also sought from clubs on the effect byes have on clubs and the section as a whole, in particular club views on competition byes overall. The general feeling was that competition byes are well received by both players and volunteers alike, however too many byes brings a stop-start nature to a season and less enjoyment overall. Ideas such as filling byes into the future with single team clubs who are competing in our current Thirds or U23 divisions were mooted as well as considerations to shortening the length of some of the seasons at the lower divisional level.
Areas related to umpiring were also discussed, whereby the current VAFA divisional umpire appointment system and structure was outlined, explaining why some U19 matches have a full complement of umpires while some division matches do not. Put simply, younger, learning umpires prosper better in the VAFA Holmesglen U19 sections where they hone and practice their skills in an environment more educationally conducive, as opposed the intensity of a senior division match.
Suggestions such as reducing the number of reserve grade players required for division teams, to the impact of providing club umpires, be they field or boundary, were also major items of discussion.
It is fair to say that the focus on club volunteers and the support required by clubs in this area has to be a key focus ongoing by not only the VAFA, but the industry in general. In line with the volunteer focus, there was much conversation related to volunteer recruitment strategies and relevant club examples. There was a strong indication from clubs in looking to the VAFA for assistance to reduce or combine the number of matchday officials to ease the burden and drain on club volunteers.
Overall, we are in the business of giving people a game of football and supporting all clubs at whatever level they are competing, this has not changed nor will it alter. In our view, it is simply a matter of managing what our clubs expect from us and, as a collective, supporting one another to achieve outcomes that satisfy the majority of needs.
We thank those clubs who were in attendance and look forward to working with you all to continue to improve VAFA divisional football into the future.
Together we achieve more.
See you at the footy.