Hi Folks,

Welcome to the new season!

The committee, coaches and players have all been working hard over the break in preparation for the 2020 season and we cannot wait for the year to start in earnest.

The numbers in all teams are strong, but a few more Vets would always be good.

Particularly pleasing is the strong numbers in the women’s teams. We decided early in the piece to push for 2 women’s teams and that is now very much a reality with lots of new faces. The women have certainly added to the club over the past few years and it is great to see the growth continuing. The leadership of the new coaching panel – Simon Hammersley, Liam Tobin and Declan Burke – and the new women’s football sub-committee has been great.

On the men’s side, as always Luke’s energy has been high throughout the preseason and the full team of new supporting coaches has made his job much easier. We have welcomed back Greg Stafford to the fitness & rehab role and he has the boys moving really well in readiness for practice matches this weekend. Senior assistant, (former East Ringwood Senior coach) Marcus Buzaglo, has also added much to the preseason as we look to push further into the finals this year. Line coaches Jamie Barnett and Michael King also bring fresh voices and perspective. The new recruits look to have settled in well, but the proof of that will come in the next few weeks.

For those paying attention to social media, you would have seen the new light towers are now up. We are just waiting on some final power works before they can be turned on. The new lighting should allow for twilight or night games, if not later this year, then certainly next year. There are a few players quite excited at the thought of actually seeing the balls at training, with rumours that it may extend their careers. We also have another meeting next week with Council regarding the pavilion redevelopment. The rumblings are sounding quite promising and we are hopeful for further positive announcements about the plans very soon.

Obviously at the moment there is a lot of concern around the threat and impacts of the Corona Virus. The EFNL is working closely with the official football bodies and government departments to develop and implement the necessary policies required to keep us all safe. At this stage we are not expecting any impacts on our season, however given the nature of the issue we will ultimately be guided by the decisions of others. We will keep everyone informed as best we can.

Our Teams
This year sees us field 2 men’s teams, U19’s, veterans and as stated above, two women’s football teams. This will present us with some challenges going forward in terms of ground access and fixturing, but we will do our best within the league guidelines. The EFNL is looking to make the women’s competitions a largely Saturday comp, meaning it is unlikely there will be many Sunday double headers with the Vets.

After consultation between the league and our football department, our U19 team has been placed in Division 3. While it is always tough when the U19s are away from the Senior teams, we saw last year the benefits which came when playing at a level where they were competitive each week. With the loss of some experienced top age players and the U17’s coming up, it was felt this will be the right level to ensure the boys can be competitive week in and week out, right from the start. We very much want to get our U19 team back up the gradings and into Premier and will continue to work closely with our Junior club to help develop their teams to that end.

The senior women’s team will compete in Premier Division and we are waiting for details about the development team. Unfortunately, premier women’s does not have an aligned development comp at this stage like the men’s competition so we are waiting on grading games etc. to determine where they will sit.

On the netball front, we again hope to field 3 or 4 teams in the EFNL Friday evening competition. We are delighted that our netball contingent has grown over the past couple of seasons. Once the netball planning/fixturing is completed by the league we will have more to advise.

At the time of writing, the men’s and women’s premier draws have been released and can be found on the EFNL website, but we are still waiting for the U19’s, the women’s development team and the vets draw to issue.
The men’s and U19s fixture starts on 4th April, the vets the same weekend on the 5th, while the women’s teams start 25th April.

Practice games
The practice games for the men are starting this Saturday March 14th against Rosebud FNC at Rosebud – the U19s start at 2pm. It would be great to see supporters get along. We will be selling memberships for anyone who wants to buy them.
Practice matches are also confirmed for the following Saturday (March 21st) against VAFA team Uni Blacks at the Eastern Ranges ground in Kilsyth – keep an eye out for full details soon.

Men’s Launch Thursday 2nd April
With the Cricket Club having their presentation night on the 28th March, we will be launching the men’s season with jumper presentations to new players on Thursday 2nd April, while women’s launch on the Thursday before their first game. Please put this into your diary and come and join us.

President’s Lunch Sat 4th April
Hopefully you will also have seen the invitation to the President’s Lunch at our first home game. We are only planning on 3 lunches this year (Rnd 1, Rnd 8 and Rnd 18) so it would be great to get a strong turnout for each one. Rnd 8 will be our focused ‘Sponsors Lunch’ but everyone is welcome to attend this one.

Sponsors and Volunteers
Of course the club cannot survive without the generous support of our sponsors and the fantastic volunteers we have. We will be specifically acknowledging sponsors throughout the year, so I will not mention anyone individually at the moment. Vince Cali has been doing a tremendous job in ensuring sponsors are on-board again and there is always room for more. If you know any business out there keen to get involved with a successful community club, please put them in touch with Vince or myself.

I think that is quite enough for now, good luck to the men this Saturday in their practice matches.


Steve Duke

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