VAFA officially launches the 2023 season

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The VAFA community came together on Wednesday evening for the VAFA William Buck 2023 Season Launch held at The Park Melbourne.

Over 250 people were in attendance, including Presidents, coaches and players from VAFA clubs ahead of the first bounce this weekend. 

Kylie Watson-Wheeler, a late withdrawal as our guest speaker. Filling the role, 1991 Premiership Hawk, and current Hawthorn President, Andy Gowers. 

Gowers reflected on being part of the glory days with Old Xaverians in the late 1990’s and 2000’s. Representing and captaining the Big V, before going ‘inside the four walls’ as President of the Hawks. 

As always on the night of the season launch, the VAFA is pleased to announce six 2023 Certificate of Merit awardees, each of whom have been recognised for their outstanding service to the VAFA and their clubs.

Congratulations to Chris Swinburne (St Johns), Dean Lovig (Hampton Rovers), Fabio Maya (Prahran AFC), John Hands (Old Carey), Tim Shearer (Old Scotch), Trevor Ludeman (Brunswick FC) on their certificate of merit awards. 

Chris Swinburne (St John’s Football Club)

Chris Swinburne has served as a Team Manager for St John’s Senior and Reserves sides. She has impressed both on and off the field, organising all on-field apparel, as well as cooking, serving, and cleaning up over 200 Thursday night meals for the club. Her loyalty and commitment to the club has been unwavering. Over the past 15 years at St John’s, Chris has held the position of club Secretary for 14 of those years, was awarded AFL Victorian of the Year in 2015, and received Life Membership at St John’s OC in 2018. 

Dean Lovig (Hampton Rovers Football Club)

Dean Lovig commenced with the Hampton Rovers as a dad in 2004. Over his 19-year affiliation he has held numerous positions and worn many different hats; including, but not limited to, Team Manager, Assistant Coach, Senior Committee Member, and Hampton Rovers Life Member. Dean is famously known at the club for managing, organising, and coordinating Saturday home luncheons with meticulous attention to detail, as well as Thursday night dinners for 100+ people. He is a “Best Clubman” award winner, and a reliable liaison to all Rovers families and players. Dean has also managed the production of the club’s Preview and Match report on a weekly basis.

Fabio Maya (Prahran Football Club)

Fabio Maya has a distinguished playing and administration association with Prahran Football Club spanning over 35 years. Fab, as he is better known, played the first of his 136 senior games with Southbank in 1987 before retiring in a premiership year of 1997. When Southbank joined Prahran in a partnership, he joined the Committee in 2008 and has been president from 2011-2023, the third longest serving president in the club’s history. Fab is a Life Member of the club, with his club ties and contribution extending down through the Maya family.

John Hands (Old Carey Football Club)

John’s involvement with the Old Carey Football Club began in 1977 as a player, and after his 171 games in the VAFA John moved into coaching and committee roles at the club. One of his most memorable achievements include stabilising and growing the club through its most tumultuous period on the brink of extension, in the role of President. John is known by his peers as the “quiet clubman”, selflessly investing his time and resources into Old Carey Football Club. John is the club’s leading donor and current guernsey sponsor. John’s immense contribution over the years has been recognised by Old Carey FC by naming the Senior Men’s B&F Award after him.

Tim Shearer (Old Scotch Football Club)

Tim Shearer has served as the president of Old Scotch Football Club for a total of 16 years. His favourite saying is that ‘everyone should strive to leave Old Scotch FC in a better place than when they started here’. He has ensured this is achieved during his tenure as President and also in a coaching capacity. During his second term as President, the club celebrated the success of 5 Premierships. Tim was instrumental in growing the club from 5 to 8 teams, including the formation of the inaugural Old Scotch Stars Women’s team. He is also to be recognised for his work in securing the future and continual growth of the club through their 5-year strategic plan, as well as by doubling the club revenue.

Trevor Ludeman (Brunswick Football Club)

Trevor Ludeman has done it all at Brunswick Football Club. From playing and coaching, to taking on the presidency, as well as spending over a decade on the committee. In 2013, Trevor also found time to write and publish the club’s history to mark Brunswick FC’s 50th anniversary. His most notable achievement was to have the foresight to establish a junior club to ensure the club’s future. At Brunswick, Trevor is known as the “father of the Juniors” and “saviour of the Seniors”. Other contributions by Trevor included serving as a club umpire for many years and being part of the VAFA Divisional Advisory Group.

With over 20 years of broadcasting, Michael Fitzgerald reminisced on the InnerFM broadcast and the team that worked tirelessly to bring the match of the day coverage to life on 96.5FM. 

The team led by Ken Petrucco all received a Certificate of Acknowledgement for bringing the passion, enthusiasm and colour of a matchday broadcast to the VAFA.

​​Adrian Hook, Andrew Holmes, Andrew Leonard, Barnaby Willis, Chris Venus, Glen Dragamire, Glenn Scarborough, Jo Wotton, John Kanis, Michael Crooks, Michael Fitzgerald, Simon Petch, Tim Armstrong. 

The highlight of the season launch every year is the induction of life members. Michael Crooks and Glenn Scarborough were both awarded with VAFA Life Membership on the back of their years broadcasting and covering the VAFA through InnerFM and North West FM.

Best of luck to all our teams, coaches and players in 2023.

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