Originally published by Riley Brettell – AFL Victoria
Momentum is a powerful force for a football club and West Brunswick Football Club is a perfect case in point.
A club reinvigorated in recent seasons, the Magpies have been riding a wave of positivity on the back of a pioneering women’s football program and extraordinary growth in their playing ranks – up from barely 50 registered players in 2015 to close to 300 in 2020.
The absence of community football this year was not about to take the air out of the black & white balloons at Parkville’s Ransford Oval, with the club mobilising its members around the Toyota Good For Footy Raffle in an effort to secure the club’s financial position amidst the COVID-19 shutdown.
Led by President Beth Cook, the club made the decision to tackle the raffle “head-on” as a means to cover the costs of 2020, which would traditionally have been covered by revenue streams that had dried up under the restrictions.
“2020 has been an incredibly difficult year,” Cook said.
“Community sporting clubs have been hit hard by the restrictions, and like many, we found ourselves in a far less secure position than we were prepared for.”
With the support of Sponsorship Manager Bridie Walsh & Football Operations Manager Nahkita Wolfe, Cook said that the club recognised the need to approach things “a little differently this year,” after raising less than $1,000 through the raffle in 2019.
“When we signed up for the 2020 Toyota Good For Footy Raffle, we thought that if we ‘aimed high’ we could reach our target of $5,000 by August with the support of all our members and community – we clearly underestimated the tenacity and spirit of our players!”
“Little did we know that the Good For Footy Raffle would become the key initiative in our COVID-19 recovery efforts.”
“We decided we would sign all of our club members up as registered sellers, and created a system where each registered seller was rewarded in club merchandise for reaching ticket sale targets,” Cook explained.
“Providing updates to our members on our leading ticket sellers created some excitement and friendly competition, whilst promoting the raffle on our social media channels with shareable graphics and our own campaign design allowed us to maintain our own brand while advertising the Toyota Good For Footy program more widely.”
The approach proved a hit, generating over 3,400 ticket sales from 104 club members – 54 of whom were able to raise over $100 – contributing to a final total of $17,015, the third-highest tally in Victoria.
Cook expressed her pride in the club community, who, in spite of the difficulties faced by all this year, had been able to “rally around one another… and allow us to put our best foot forward for the year to come.”
“We are so proud of all our members who took up the challenge this year and sold tickets to get us to where we are now.”
“The work they put in has made such an incredible difference to the club this year and has allowed us to start looking to the future, without carrying the worries of 2020 into 2021.
“A shout out to our top ten ticket sellers, who together raised 37% of the clubs total, and a special mention to our top fundraiser Cass Beer, who raised a whopping $1,000. We’d also like to thank Bob, Ralph, Rodin, Josh & Hamma for their help and support.
“We’d also like to extend our thanks to all of those who purchased tickets in the raffle to support the club and listened to the call to action in our time of need.”
A club which previously boasted former Prime Minister, Bob Hawke, as the number one ticket holder, as well as 1968 Olympic Games bronze medalist Peter Norman as a player (most famous for his standing in solidarity with Tommie Smith & John Carlos on the podium in Mexico City), Cook says that the Magpies are hoping to hit the ground running in 2021.
“Our coaches have worked tirelessly this year to keep the playing group engaged, fit and prepared…. despite all the efforts they have put, the coaching team – led by our two senior coaches – chose to take no payment for their work for the benefit of the club and players.
“Our committee has done a tremendous amount of work this year in keeping up with the rapidly changing environment to keep the club afloat through this difficult and uncertain year. They were able to re-focus their attention to a number of key initiatives to make sure that the club will be in a strong position when we return next year.
“2021 is, however, bound to be another challenging year. Uncertainty around how community footy will look in a ‘COVID normal’ world means that it’s difficult to look too far ahead, but we’ve got our fingers crossed that we won’t lose too much of our pre-season to restrictions and that we’re able to get back into full contact training and games as soon as possible.
“Thankfully we have a great community around us, which means we’re confident of continuing to go from strength-to-strength both on the field and off the field next year.”
The Magpies hope to continue to expand their women’s program in 2021 by fielding a third team into the official VAFA competition, whilst their reserves vie for a third-consecutive premiership. The senior women are hoping to go one better in 2021, having been beaten on Grand Final Day in each of their three seasons, whilst the senior men’s side will look to earn promotion in Division 2.
Photo: AFL Victoria