Brett Connell – VAFA CEO
Disruption in any form is difficult to manage, be it a change in employment, a house move or a shift interstate, add to that regrading teams some (4) weeks into a season.
There are the obvious operational vagaries involved with regrading; are match points carried forward, what about percentage, there will always be parochial interests and we are always cognisant of how the changes will affect already stretched clubs and their volunteers in relation to ground availability, social functions and volunteer scheduling.
Over the last (2) weeks the Football Operations team has had the unenviable task of reviewing the competition structures in the sections that are not promotion/relegation, namely our Women’s, U19’s and Thirds divisions.
This has become an annual task of the Football Operations team in the pursuit of competition competitive balance and the long-term sustainability of our club teams.
While a number of the aforementioned competitions fixtures were only finalised close to the start of the season, the VAFA strongly defends its right to regrade where it is obvious teams in various divisions are not evenly matched.
In doing so there is a high level of consultation and discussion with affected clubs and at VAFA HQ on all fronts, be it with clubs who we are seeking to promote or clubs we wish to demote.
In the main the discussions are fruitful and disruption is kept to a minimum, although on some occasions the changes will result in clubs having to make changes to their club operations, which we fully appreciate stretch club volunteers and resources.
The main aim is always to provide clubs with the most evenly matched competitions on an annual basis and to this end regrading is inevitable.
Another consequence of not regrading may be forfeits (be they weekly or for the full year) which become a bigger challenge and disruption to our clubs and the Association in general, as well as affecting future sustainability of club teams and in some case their futures.
The regrading in particular affects our rapidly expanding women’s competition, which has grown almost 50% since its inception from (40) teams in 2017 to close to (80) in 2019.
Shona MacInnes in her Women’s Football role last week advised affected women’s teams that, “Setting up such a large competition in such a short time comes with great complexities. The aim in the future is to have a promotion/relegation system but until we feel this competition is bedded down, re-grading, if and where we see fit, will continue going forward. We understand that each club has its own requirements and we will endeavour to meet these where possible, but our focus is the best interests of the competition as a whole”.
We thank all clubs who were affected by any structural changes for their understanding and support and trust you appreciate the VAFA’s sole intention is to support clubs in their growth and long-term development.
The VAFA Board and Administration would also like to make a special mention to all of the mothers in the VAFA community. We wish you a very special Mothers’ Day this Sunday and simply say thanks for everything you do.
See you at the footy.