Editorial: Representative football

Posted on - Latest News, Featured, Rep Footy

By Michael Sholly – @vafaceo

It has been a longer than usual stretch of nine consecutive weeks without a bye as Easter fell early this season.  At the half way mark you will have a good guide on how your team is performing now having played each other. This week off will allow all club coaches and officials to reflect on their performances and re-charge for the run home.

In each of the sections there is a similar pattern that emerges. Generally there are two teams who are near certainties of playing finals, one team at the bottom needing a huge turnaround to avoid relegation and the other seven teams will oscillate weekly between eyeing off the finals or avoiding relegation. In my experience it is important not to get too far ahead of yourself and just tick off that relegation box before you start thinking of finals.

Whilst most will have the week off, the VAFA is looking forward to reigniting our rivalry with the South Australian Amateurs for the first time at senior level since 2004. In the late 1990’s the South Australian Amateurs merged with the Metropolitan Football League, resulting in a stronger and more formidable opponent. Their competition is no longer amateur with most of their clubs now paying their players. Their senior team has not played since 2004 so I fully expect a hardened, focussed opposition who will all be pulling on their Crow Eaters jumper for the first time as they debut at senior level.

Traditionally strong clubs, Adelaide University, Rostrevor and Prince Alfred Colleges, are now joined in Division 1 by newer SAAFL clubs, Salisbury North, Tea Tree Gully and Port Districts. Similar to ourselves, the SAAFL has seven senior divisions and a number of Clubbie and Thirds teams competing in a separate competition. In all, it’s a comparable number of players to select from.

This year, the Big V will be coached by former Old Scotch, St Kevin’s and AJAX senior coach, Stuart Powell. Stuart embodies all that is great about amateur football. Whilst injuries cruelled his own playing career he has dedicated his professional life to teaching and learning and coached, not only these team amateur teams, but also many junior and schoolboy teams. When meeting Stuart you can feel he fully commits himself to the task whilst understanding the commitments the players have to their clubs, their work and family life.

Stuart has assembled an impressive panel including former Melbourne player Andrew Leoncelli, his brother Stephen who had an illustrious AFL career at the Western Bulldogs and St Kilda, and former VAFA Premier B premiership coach at Mazenod Dave Murray. An excellent mix of VAFA experienced men combined with AFL strategies.

At the time of writing the squad has 40 players all keen to wear the Big V with up to half for the first time.  We are fortunate that the experienced Big V players have put their hand up again. Tom Paule (Old Melburnians), Jack Bull (Old Scotch), Harry Tinney (Old Trinity), Matt Handley (Old Xavs) and Sam Williams (De La Salle) will be possibly joined by debutants Alex Poliodoros (Old Trininty), George Burberry (Old Geelong), Nick de Steiger (Old Melburnians) and Sam Cust (Old Carey).

The game commences at 2.15pm at Trevor Barker Oval, Sandringham next Saturday 11 June. Cut out the coupon on Page 60 of this edition of the Amateur Footballer for free entry into the match. I know the players enjoy the support of their club teammates and supporters.