My first term as President has been a challenge however in reflection I believe overall, we have had a very successful year both on and off the field.

From an on-field point of view we managed to field 23 sides – which included an incredible five Girls sides. Whilst our demographic is ageing and there is so much more opportunity for children to participate in other sports the increase in Girls football has been a blessing for our Club to keep our numbers at a significantly high level.

To have so many sides take the field each week takes roughly around 250 volunteers. Our Club remains as always indebted to the efforts of our fantastic coaches, team managers and age group managers. They are the lifeblood of the Club and are the first and often the only point of contact for our parents and players. As well as performing their roles to great ability they also act as role models and mentors for our boys and girls, young men and young women.  A more dedicated, professional and passionate group of people would be hard to find and on behalf of the Club and Committee I thank them sincerely. I also thank all the parent helpers who week in week out put up their hands to do ground manager, boundary and goal umpire, interchange steward and timekeeper to enable our children to take the field.

From the eighteen sides that could participate in finals we managed to have twelve sides progress, which is a fantastic result considering we don’t hard grade from our younger age groups. From the twelve we had five sides progress through to the Grand Final. Unfortunately, we could only manage one premiership side from this. I managed to get to several of the finals and whilst the outcome was not always in our favour the spirit and sportsmanship shown by our players was a credit not only to the Club but to themselves.

None of the above would be possible without a dedicated Football Department. Brenton (BK), Dean, Mark and Leon put in hours of behind the scenes work which goes largely unnoticed. To have so many sides make finals and have no side so uncompetitive that we had no side finished on the bottom of a ladder is remarkable and whilst we did not have the Premierships results we would have liked, your dedication and enthusiasm is certainly reflected with these results. I personally thank you for your time and passion in these difficult roles.

Auskick has come to St Mary’s GJFC. A famous line from a movie is ‘if you build it they will come’. Anthony Theunissen had an idea to introduce Auskick for the first time to the Junior Football Club hoping to get a dozen children this year and for the Club to build on this in following years. In a remarkable feat he managed to get forty-eight registered Auskick participants – a magnificent result for the first year. I personally like to thank Anthony and his dedicated coaches, as well as the junior players who came down to help out with the activities and training.

Off field the club is in a very strong position.

Our regular Sunday supporter’s nights, whilst not as popular as past years, are still well supported. The players all enjoy the pizza and the company, and the Clubrooms have a real vibe to them. We will be looking to build on these nights by having more special guests etc. to make them more attractive. We realise it is a changing environment and that we need to offer new and exciting experiences to attract members back to our Club. These nights are not possible with the hard work from a large number of people working behind the scenes. Our social events, Ladies Night and Poker Night were also well attended in a climate where other clubs are cancelling or scaling down events.

Our Gala Ball regularly attracts well over 300 attendees which is an incredible result for a Junior Sporting Club.  It was an amazing night to recognize our Top Age Colts and our Youth Girls. All of them looked fantastic dressed up and enjoying the festivities. On this night, our life members are asked to assemble on the dance floor and their number continues to amaze. The fact that so many continue to support the Club after their children have finished playing and in many cases moved on to senior clubs is another example of the passion held for St Mary’s. This year we inducted Paul and Karen King, as well as Jack and Colleen Batchelor as life members. I would like to congratulate them on this honour and thank them for all the hard work and time they have put into making this Club what it is today over a long period of time.

The Colts and Youth Girls vote count night was another huge success. It was hard to recognize the clubrooms with its make-over. A lot of dedicated and passionate people worked tirelessly to have the rooms looking so good. I won’t mention individuals as there were so many people involved I know I would leave someone out, so thank you to all who contributed in some way. I would also like to thank the volunteer bar staff, chefs, chief glass washers for their assistance over the night. I personally want to thank a few of our Under 15 boys who volunteered their time to act as waiters on the night. Milan Todorovic, Lachlan Read, Patrick Carbis and Patrick Tobin you all did a terrific job and without your help this night would not have been the success it was.

Grand Final day at the Club was also a huge success. Everyone who attended had a terrific time – even if not Tigers supporters.

None of the events mentioned above can get off the ground without a motivated person running the ship. Melinda Read, as the Social Director, puts in tireless hours organising, promoting and running these events. From a Presidents point of view, it was great knowing that I did not have to worry about any of the organisation of these events and that things would just get done. Mel goes over and beyond what her role entails to make sure these events are a massive success. While Mel is the head of the ship, there are also a lot of people in the background who support this role and are always willing volunteer to help out. So, to all those people as well, again too many to mention but thank you for your time and effort.

I would like to acknowledge the achievements of our hard working 2017 Committee.  At St Mary’s each committee member has a designated role, though everyone is always on hand to assist each other in any way they can, as well act as barpersons, cleaners, cooks, raffle sellers etc.  Being on committee at St Mary’s is hard work, but the rewards of seeing happy kids and the friendships formed and the fun times had does make it worthwhile. On behalf of the Club I would like to give a huge thank you to Anthony, Aleks, Laureen, Melinda, Aliscia, Monique, Brenton, Dean, Leon, Kirsten and Mark for their contribution.

I deliberately left Mark Taranto to last on that list. Mark has indicated that he will be retiring from the committee. Mark has been a valuable contributor to this Club over a long period of time holding several roles. I personally would like to thank Mark for his service to this Club and I personally valued his input. Whilst you are stepping down off the committee you are an integral part of this Club and I hope to see you and your family around the place in the future.

Our Sponsors are also an invaluable and important part of the St Mary’s community and I would like to acknowledge all of generous team and Club sponsors and in particular our major sponsors, Watson Holden, Stuart Broadley & Associates, The Blind Spot, Banyule Dental, Barry Plant Real Estate Greensborough & Active Environmental Solutions. Sponsorship funds raised, bridge the gap between our registration fees and the true cost of running the Club and without them we would be forced to lift our fees or reduce our services and activities. As always, I encourage all members to support our sponsors as they have supported us

Looking forward to the 2018 season the St Mary’s GJFC will be making some major commitments not only from a football perspective but in the maintaining and improving the Club standards so as to continue to be a major destination club in region.

Some of these commitments are:

  • To introduce a Values and Standards paper to keep our Club as a major community leader in our region.
  • Emphasis on providing Age and Team Managers with the knowledge and skills to perform their duties to the highest of standards.
  • Emphasis on the development of our coaches to be able to deliver a high standard of information and knowledge to our children.
  • Emphasis on giving our coaches the equipment needed to deliver their programs.
  • To supply more under cover areas at both Whatmough and Greensborough Park (Council Approval needed).
  • To strengthen our relationships with key partners including the Senior Club and the local councils.

In closing I would just like to say why it has been a challenging first term. The support I have received from so many people indicates to me that the Club is still one which is held in high regard and one which people are proud to be a part of. The reputation of this Club is paramount, and I will be doing all I can to not only maintain but to enhance this Clubs reputation.

Thanks to all that have supported our Club in 2017.

Paul Tobin
President 2017