A NEW era for Gippsland football has dawned.
AFL Victoria and AFL Victoria Country recently appointed a seven member Gippsland Region Commission designed to oversee the direction of Australian football in the area.
Former Leongatha captain coach Angus Hume heads the panel, which was born from a recommendation by a 2011 AFL review of football in country Victoria, and said the initial focus would be to assess the needs of stakeholders in the region and appoint the necessary staff to facilitate them.
“It’s a fundamental change for country football,” Hume said.
“We will be looking to make changes in the way football runs, and the way it runs is a really collective term.”
The commission had its first meeting last Monday and already Hume has flagged junior football, in line with the AFL review’s recommendations, and help for volunteers as target areas for improvement.
“It’s not going to be taking away from the administration of clubs or leagues, but it will be promoting football from all age levels, and one thing I think we can do a lot better (if there is a direct football priority) I reckon we can do junior footy a great service by helping them more,” he said.
“There’s some pretty sound football development procedures in place already through development officers but I would contend that could be done better.
“From top to bottom you have to be looking at everything in football, (and) that includes the volunteers.” As a new entity, Hume said the commission would not rush into anything while getting established, but wanted to make it clear to clubs they would be supported at all levels. Hume was hopeful that, long term, the effect of a strong local football presence would have a flow on effect in the wider Gippsland community.
“One of the important things that country football clubs offer… and in country towns, (is that they) are in many respects a hub of a lot of community activity,” he said.
“People will get to know over time that the commission is supporting that broader activity beyond just football.”
Hume is joined by Paul Buckley, Mikaela Power, Trevor Wilson, Jim Fawcett, Brian Quigley and Andrew Francis as the foundation commissioners.
The new Gippsland commission will incorporate the Gippsland, North Gippsland, Mid Gippsland, Alberton, Ellinbank and District football leagues, Sale, Warragul, Traralgon and Central Gippsland junior associations and the Sale, South Gippsland, Latrobe Valley and Gippsland umpires associations.
A Gippsland region general manager will be appointed to manage the strategic direction of football in the region in consultation with the members and under the guidance of the commission. A separate commission has been established to govern football in East Gippsland.