Dear West Brunswick AFC community,

It’s been almost two weeks since the VAFA Board made the decision to pull the pin on the 2020 season. As disappointed as we are not to be able to get out on the park this year, this season has by no means gone to waste. As the dust has started to settle since the initial heartache of a season lost, it’s a good time to look back on our year as we celebrate and recognise all the club has achieved.

  • Recruiting well since the end of the 2019 season, we registered over 60 new players in 2020 across our six sides. In pre-season, we saw some of our highest attendances in years. Further to that, women’s registrations grew once again, as WBAFC continue to boast one of the strongest women’s football programs in the VAFA with close to 100 players registering for our women’s sides.
  • After years of advocating, we were finally able to announce that the VAFA would be including a women’s thirds competition in 2020, and that we would be entering an official women’s thirds team. We’re excited to see what our women’s thirds team can achieve in 2021.
  • Our focus on player welfare has continued to grow, and in the offseason the club provided the opportunity for our club coaches and leaders to undertake Mental Health First Aid Training. This year, we added a player welfare page on our website to provide resources and support for players and community during lockdown and into the future.
  • Prior to lockdown, we began work on a new concussion program, through which we will provide more concussion training to players, coaches and trainers alike, and develop more stringent protocols to better ensure the safety of our players.
  • In preseason, we had a great turn-out for our annual cricket day, in memory of player, coach, and committee member Shane Devers, and contributed nearly $500 towards Bushfire Relief through donations on the day.
  • We celebrated our Pride Round and IDAHOBIT Day (International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia) virtually by creating a rainbow across our social media platforms, with over 80 photos submitted by our players. For the fourth consecutive year we supported Minus18 and the amazing work they do for LGBTIQ youth.
  • This year we are celebrating 50 years of The Birdsnest, our club newsletter. In June we released our first edition for the year, with a brand new logo and design. Keep your eyes peeled for more editions over the coming months.
  • We have received some great promotion this year, having been featured on the VAFA’s Clubs in Focus Podcast in May, and have twice had the opportunity to speak about community football on Drive on ABC Radio Melbourne.
  • In June we joined the 2020 Victorian Football & Netball Clubs Blood Challenge, with our registered LifeBlood team competing against other clubs and working together to save lives from July through to the end of September. While we’re only two weeks in, WBAFC are sitting on the top of the ladder in donations made. You can join here.
  • While this year has been financially challenging, the Toyota Good for Footy Raffle has been a huge success story for the club. GFF turned into our biggest revenue stream this year by far, and has helped us keep our heads above water. Due to the support of our community we have been able to raise over $16,000 to help ‘keep the lights on’.
  • Throughout restrictions and lockdowns, the players, coaches and committee worked tirelessly to maintain a sense of connection and community. Despite there being no season on the horizon, our club showed up week after week and put their all into training, establishing a level of resilience, solidarity, and momentum that will carry us into the 2021 season with strength!

 There is still a lot on the horizon for the Westies in the back half of 2020, and for the 2021 season. Keep your eye out over the coming weeks for information regarding a new-look reverse raffle (adapted to suit COVID-19 restrictions, of course), and should we see a sense of normality return to Melbourne, we hope to be able to proceed with some of our more regular social events. We will continue to fundraise this year through the Good For Footy Raffle, the West Brunswick AFC COVID-19 Recovery Fund, and our 2020 Social (Distancing) Memberships. The support for these initiatives so far has been overwhelming, and continued support will help ensure the viability of our club into 2021 and beyond. It has been a joy to witness our community come together and throw their unwavering support behind the club in what has been a challenging year, and I encourage our members – along with their friends and families – to keep getting around the club and building our community.

Speaking of support, I would like to acknowledge our wonderful sponsors, many of whom have suffered this year throughout the lockdowns and restrictions that have restrained their businesses, yet continue to support the club: Efex, Prince Alfred Rooftop and Bar Carlton, Boost Juice Barkly Square, North Melbourne Boxing and Fitness, Priceline Pharmacy West Brunswick, Blackhearts and Sparrows, Green Refectory, Meatsmith, 3DGuard, Kwik Kopy North Melbourne, and Hawkers Beer, and our new sponsors who joined us this year: CrowdPop, Dynamic Health and Recovery, Chubb, Newell Lock & Co Accountants, Happy Hippo Kindergarten and Childcare and ETU. We look forward to growing our partnerships next season.

2021 looks to be an exciting year at West Brunswick. We will – as always – have a bumper social calendar planned, which will hopefully include the delayed ‘End of the Decade’ celebration that was initially scheduled for this year. We plan to see six teams take the field in round 1, and look forward to finally unveiling the 2019 Women’s Reserves Premiership Flag on Friends and Family Day. Hopefully by the end of 2021, we will have a few more premiership celebrations to add to the calendar!

Perhaps saving the most exciting news for last, the work of many past WBAFC committees has come to fruition, with the redevelopment of the Ryder Pavilion, Western Pavilion, and Brens Pavilion planned to get underway in January 2021. While we are thankful for the home that has served us so well for so many years, we – along with our co-tenants Youlden Parkville Cricket Club – are excited see a newer, larger, more suitable pavilion take the place of the changerooms and social space that we have dramatically outgrown! Watch this space!

While we’ve had to hit pause on playing this year, and have found ourselves separated once again, we are still a community, and our care for our people doesn’t end when the football does. Please look after yourselves and your loved ones, and remember that you can reach out to the club for support at any time, or access a wide range of resources on our website.

We still have a lot up our sleeves for the remainder of the year and 2021, so keep in touch and engaged through our website, Instagram and Facebook pages, and via our mailing list (join here).

Beth Cook

President

West Brunswick Amateur Football Club