Editorial: Representative football taking focus

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Michael Sholly – VAFA CEO

Maybe St Kilda players should have read my editorial last week as it centred on the culture of clubs and the respect players should have for their opponents. Hopefully this gives all our members a reminder of how the VAFA sets itself apart from all the professional and semi-professional football competitions in the state.

I have focused my editorials this year on the culture of clubs, but after five rounds it is timely to shift my attention to the on-field performances of our clubs and individuals. It is around this time of the year when our representative coaches are out watching players and formulating potential squads. In our 125th year, it is going to be a huge match against AFL Victoria Country for our Senior and Under 19 teams. Excitingly, our women will also have the opportunity to be playing their inaugural Big V representative match against AFL Goldfields.

Last weekend, the State Championships were held with 32 competitions represented. Two years ago the Victorian Country leagues and the Metropolitan leagues combined to form one state championship. The VAFA decided not to participate allowing for our rep teams to play an interstate amateur competition one year and AFL Victoria the other. We had won the metro championship in the two years that competition was held before combining.

After winning the title for five years, the Geelong Football League, through the Geelong Advertiser, has issued a challenge to the VAFA to see who the best competition in the state is; however, we have bigger fish to fry playing the combined AFL Victoria Country team at both Senior and Under 19 level in July.

Our performances over the last two years at senior level have been underwhelming to say the least and in our 125th year we need to respond. In the past two years, we have gone down to the country by 10 goals and followed up with a disappointing 17-point loss to South Australia.  Our Under 19’s, whilst playing with great intensity, have lost their last three games to the country.

Our girls will get their first opportunity to pull on the Big V when they take on AFL Goldfields. We will always endeavour to provide our female players the same opportunities afforded to our men. It took our men 33 years to get a rep match and our women 3 months.

Now, on to our teams; five rounds in and we should be getting an understanding of where we sit in the pecking order. Whilst this can change quickly (just ask Richmond and Geelong) the ten undefeated sides in our seven senior men’s sections must feel pretty confident of finals football.

In William Buck Premier, both Collegians and St Kevin’s, who just avoided relegation last year, finishing seventh and eighth respectively, have responded to be undefeated to start season 2017. These two teams play on the weekend in the match of the round. I would think that our rep selectors will be watching this match very closely.

In Premier B, our two undefeated sides, Old Scotch and Old Brighton, don’t play each other until Round 8 so have the chance to continue their runs. Old Brighton finished off last season in grand style, just missing out on making the four, but have taken all before them on the back of their youth. A number of these played in our Under 19 representative team last year and have continued to improve.

Premier C is the closest of our senior sections, with all sides experiencing a loss and only Kew failing to secure a win. Old Haileybury and Caulfield Grammarians are the only teams to have had just one loss for the season, which highlights the competitive nature of this section.

In the four Division Sections we have six undefeated teams. They are St Marys Salesian and PEGS (Div 1), West Brunswick (Div 2), Power House and UHS-VU (Div 3) and North Brunswick (Div 4).

I am looking forward to this block of three matches before the Queen’s Birthday bye weekend and the announcement of our 2017 representative squads.