Editorial: Together we achieve more

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Brett Connell – VAFA CEO

Once again, I want to celebrate the return of VAFA football. With Rounds 1 and 2 under our belts, I want to make a few observations.

Last week, I touched on challenges we faced with a shortage of umpires and the late timing of our advice to clubs requiring already loaded club volunteers to perform Houdini type feats and find more officials. The umpiring matter became more than what was explained from an operations perspective, with elements of the feedback referring to gender equity.

While social media is a tool our clubs use to celebrate team performances and their players and members, it is disappointing when individual members misuse it to promulgate misinformation and negativity. It is timely to remind our community that the VAFA’s Social Media & Digital Communication Policy extends to players and officials on any social media channel or online forum and misuse, as outlined in the policy, will not be tolerated, and will be investigated.

The VAFA has the single largest women’s football competition in community football in Australia, combined Awards Nights and Media Days, (3) female Board Members, (9) female Club Presidents, a Women’s Advisory Group and we are currently working to strengthen female representation on our Board. As an Association, we pride ourselves on our inclusivity among all members, irrespective of gender. We recognise issues will arise and we will always strive to resolve them.

Round 2 threw up another challenge with the return of all community football competitions and the subsequent slow loading of results and ladders via SportsTG. SportsTG provides the competition management system for the VAFA and all community football leagues and, despite efforts to obtain our own data over the years, this is out of our control. The issue of slow load times is not due to the VAFA website but instead the SportsTG links. And it affects all leagues. Since investing heavily and making significant upgrades to the hosting platform (Amazon Web Services) for VAFA.com.au, our website’s load times are quicker and more efficient than they’ve ever been.

I would like to thank our community for the incredible uptake of the digital Amateur Footballer Record over the past two weeks. The change from hard copy to soft copy was flagged with clubs via surveys in 2019 and again in 2020, with the majority recognising the financial benefit of moving to a digital version. While clubs are progressively sending their team lists through for inclusion in the record, the ability to download directly to smartphones and the use of printed QR codes at club canteens over the weekend saw a great number of eyeballs reading over our 64-page record. While there is a small group unhappy with the decision to go digital in 2021, we hope the transition is made easier via the numerous methods we’ve provided to make it accessible for all.

Garnering support will always provide more positive outcomes for everyone than negative attitudes and unhelpful pot shots. Given where we all were 12 months ago, I know which situation I prefer.

So, let’s work together and celebrate what’s great about the VAFA rather than trying to tear down the great competition we all love.

This Anzac Day long weekend is a time to remember those who tragically passed away in war defending the rights of Australians. Whilst not actually participating on Anzac Day, many clubs will be conducting services to honour the Anzacs this Saturday, predominantly during the interval between the reserves and the seniors. We encourage everyone to take a moment to remember. Lest we forget.

See you @ the Footy.