The curtain has fallen.
2019, what a year. It only seems like yesterday I was a proud dad going along to my eldest son’s first game at Rovers in 2009. I thought I knew plenty about the caper having coached for many years. As a 20 year old starting out in coaching in 1988 it was always about winning flags and being the best. The pursuit as a young coach for me was about winning, end of story. Development was an afterthought, although I had plenty of empathy for the lad that spent way too much time on the bench. If it meant we won, he stayed there, singing the song after a contest was THE priority.
Years go by fast. Society still judges harshly the win loss ratio of teams, however 10 years down the road I have witnessed many things that have had me alter my thinking; football clubs are far more than just a place to win on the field. They provide:
#1 A sense of belonging, security, acceptance and inclusiveness is now most important.
#2 It must be fun/enjoyable, NO compromise.
#3 Development must be front of mind, ALWAYS.
#4 Fair play, it should go without saying, for some, it doesn’t.
A somewhat distant #5 is winning and if the stars align, you have worked hard and honoured steps 1-4 you might be lucky enough to play in an U14 D5 premiership.
People within most clubs figure it’s all about the D1 team, it’s not and never was in this case. The inclusive nature of this grand group is testament to everything I love: the TM, Peter, the coaches Christian and Zach have had a ball. We welcomed lads from local teams, teams that fell over, we welcomed lads that had never played, we asked lads to play the game in a division that might seem below their talent. This group are resilient, inclusive accepting and will remain forever loyal. Well done boys.
I was with parents of the U11 squad last Wednesday night, a meeting I called to talk about the roll out of the U12 graded year ahead in 2020. People not so long ago at Rovers hid in the corner when the word grading was mentioned, it was seen as nothing but exclusive/elitist. It is important that every child develops in their current silo of ability, we must never force any child to play far outside their comfort zone, this is when enjoyment is lost, participation deteriorates and the game becomes a chore.
The U11 Div 3 lads had a cracker season. Coached by Marcus these boys won their Grand Final last weekend and it was great to see the families get around the lads as they sung the song.
Our relationship with East Sandringham isn’t just for the boys, 5 Rover girls played U16 Div 1 Zebs and they also won the flag yesterday. Well done Tay J, Gabi, Tash, Makenzy & JT, and all your Zebbie mates, Rovers are always proud.
The Mighty U12 Girls played off in the Grand Final against Ormond last Sunday. This little team has some real stars of the future going around. I went over to the coaches from Ormond and congratulated them on allowing our girls to kick the last four goals of the game, he responded by saying “every child needs to enjoy the day and we must get them all back next year” well done to all coaches.
The last game I watched was the U12 D1 team and I was really impressed by the standard of play, many rotations by both teams, fast ball movement and strong marking skill shown by Ajax saw the young Rovers gallant but fall just short.
With 90% of Presentations done it’s almost time for me to catch a flight to Bali. Before I do, I need to acknowledge many people that bring 600 members together to allow the children to work within the inclusive environment that is Hampton Rovers.
Normally I start with the President, not this year, he goes last. This time I start with his better half, Emma. Thanks Em, the SMJFL Volunteer of the year is yours, no one can touch your drive, level headed approach, the strong will you deliver girls football is testament to the growth of the sport at our club. Thank you for being a sounding board, you pick me up and prop me where and when I need to be.
To our outgoing TM Manager, Amy Stokes, likewise with Emma, Amy has prodded and poked me into shape, her wise ear and calm influence as a mother has helped greatly.
Gav, the best secretary a club could ask for, his work in some tight situations was always calm, considered and intelligent, thanks Gav, awesome year.
Rohan, he loves the club although here only two years, thanks for your constant words of encouragement and support.
Kate, always fun being around her; smart, quick wit, very can do, thanks for looking after our finances.
Lisa and Elizabeth. Ladies our comms are the envy of the league, it is a pleasure to work with passionate people, thanks for making my jibba look OK.
Kabel, local legend, love his bright persona, thanks mate for everything that you have done.
Tim Hall on Registrations, smart guy, always thinking, great coach,
Leedsy, Steve, Jules, love leaning on you guys for help and advice.
All coaches and TMs, thanks for a massive 2019, take a bow, we delivered 600+ smiles each week, an environment that is inclusive, resilient and proud.
To my wife, Julie and three boys, thank you for allowing me to be a part of this great club. Good luck to Lachlan and the mighty U19s this weekend as the last Rover team to pull on the boots. To Ash, Joey, Bretto & our mates that lend an ear, cheers boys.
I will not coach next year or work with St Kilda NGA, I look forward to working with Christian, Bianca & Leedsy to create ROVERS DNA. It’s been a vision and now we are in a great place to make it happen. Stand by for a report on that. I look forward to being a dad of three boys playing the best sport there is.
Finally, I have been on football committees at three different clubs for 25 years, I have worked with some awesome people. It is a sad day as we thank Jason Nicholl for his tireless work as club President, his calm influence has been exactly what’s been needed. It takes a village to raise a child as Jase says often, he has been the chief of our village for 3 brilliant years, he shared a vision and delivered beyond anything we planned for. THANKS CHIEF.
OK, where’s the Passport, I’m outta here.
See you all in 2020, be safe, have a great summer and we will all be back and do it all again.