More than just a Football Club

06 July 2015

Football is at the core of the clubs activities and this year all teams are again performing well, but there is significantly more happening at the club, than what gets posted on the scoreboard at each match.

(Article prepared for College Strand Publication)

The clubs aim is to "provide the most positive sporting and social environment possible for players their families and friends".

As we pursue this aim a wide range of activities and programs have been implemented. In a recent university study its was found that for every dollar that goes into a community sporting club, some four dollars of benefit flows back to the community through the positive impact these clubs have. At St Bernards FC we work hard to be strong on the scoreboard, but also to be a strong positive force in the community for the benefit of all involved.

Across Auskick, 13 junior teams and 6 senior teams the club encompasses 650 players and their families and friends. Providing a positive and safe social environment is critical to everyones enjoyment, and for the players to grow as both sports people and as positive members of the community. Some of the off field activities we been involved with/encouraged have included :

Auskick - Charity BBQ : raising awareness and funds for breast cancer research. Thanks to Auskick Co-ordinator Damian Bellino and his dedicated team of coaches/helpers who do a great job every week, and this season we welcomed new auskick coaches ex AFL stars David Rodan and Heath Scotland

Junior Club - Kokoda Trek : a number of junior club players participated in this years Trek organised through the college. Now into its 7th trek the junior and senior football clubs were strong supporters of the treks fund raising efforts, to help provide a school and education for the PNG children that live on the track. Thanks to all involved at the club and the college.

Ladies Network - Annual Charity Lunch : Established just three years ago and lead expertly by Angela Mcguire and her hard working committee, this 350 strong group holds an annual charity lunch. This years lunch is in support of "Look Good - Feel Better" who assist women facing cancer, to do so with confidence and self belief. Thanks to all that support these first class Ladies Network Events, and to our Ladies Network volunteers.

Step Back Think - Anti Violence Campaign: In what is now also an annual campaign, the club lead by anti violence campaigner and old boy David Mitchell, runs education sessions for all our players and supporters, on the dangers surrounding social violence. David is bravely championing this cause, having been the subject of a brutal attack, and through his work being amplified across the club and wider community, we hope lessons are well learnt and behaviour is changed to erradicate such needless violence. Special thanks to David and all involved in this most important campaign.

One in Five - Mental Health Awareness : the Annual Gary McAllister Shield Lunch & Game has become a strong forum to raise awareness about Mental Health. Gary was a former premiership captain at the club and spent his life as a teacher of both sport and life skills to a generation of young men. Sadly Gary passed away three years ago after his own long battle with mental illness, but in a special way we are all still learning from Gary. He taught for 19years at Xavier College and this years game vs Old Xavs FC will again be an occassion to honour Garys great work, and to also further raise awareness around mental health issues. Again thanks to Garys family, Xavier College and Football Club, and all involved in this special day and game.

Drug and Alcohol Education : sadly the terrible fallout caused by drug and alcohol abuse, has become a daily headline on our newspapers and tv channels. In what is an escalating community problem, the club is proactively engaging with our players and supporters on this issue. A briefing is being held for all players by experts at S.A.L.T (Sports & Life Training) as part of an on-going education program at the club.

Player Welfare Group : now into its fourth year this initiative is a group of five eminent club people with a diverse range of professional skills. They are available to be called on by any player or person in the club community that needs personal help and this can be done on a strictly confidential basis if need be. This could relate to financial problems, mental health issues, family or domestic violence problems or stress and career issues. This group can and does call on outside expertise should that be required to assist the person involved. The club would like to thanks those involved in this important support group.

Jobs Network : this program is co-ordinated by Vinnie McGuire committeman and chair of our business coterie group the Diamond Dogs. Many senior players at the club are transitioning from school/university and looking for careers advice/guidance and in many cases employment. Through the clubs extensive jobs network, some two dozen players have found employment in the last 3yrs either directly or indirectly with help from the club . Craig Connelly has also played a pivitol role working with players on preparation of CV's, interview skills and overall career counselling.In addition to Vinnie and Craig, we thank the many hundreds of people that see the jobs network updates, for their feedback and assitance in helping launch many promising off field careers at the club.

As we hope all this work and programs show, football really is only part of the positive story at St Bernards FC. Of course it would be remiss not to include a football update, and as usual an open invitation stands for everyone in the community to join us for a game, lunch or special event so you can be part of what we believe is a very vibrant and enjoyable sporting club. Details for all activities at the club can be found on our website stbernardsfc, or befriend us on facebook or follow us on twitter.

Football Development Escalator : the club doesnt look just one or two years ahead, we dont try to manufacture on field success, we take an approach of trying to build strong long term sustainable performance. If that delivers some success like last years u/19 Premier Division flag (photo attached) , then that just adds to the reward and enjoyment for all concerned. So just what is the "Football Development Escalator" ? . A youngster and family can come to the club and join Auskick, improve his skills and himself through our fun and engaging junior program. Then as 14 to 18yr olds we welcome 100+ plus players annually into our summer "Football Academy" where over a 10 week program a group of expert coaches further escalate skills/fitness and participation. This then flows into our three team u/19 group, which has additional development coaching and onwards into our three senior teams, overseen by Senior Coach Anthony Rock and his highly skilled assistants .
The program is aimed to escalate players on and off field skills, throughout the journey from Auskick to Seniors. Special thanks to the architect of this program Football Director Craig Connelly, and the literally hundreds of coaches and support staff that all work diligently to keep the "Football Development Escalator" working positively and effectively.
This program is delivering sustained success, with multiple teams across the whole club firmly placed in the top half of their respective competitions. Its is also seeing multiple senior players receiving call ups to higher levels of vafa representative football and/or vfl and afl clubs. Finally its important to know that this program accepts and encourages players of all abilities, to be the best they can be and have losts of fun doing it.

Thankyou’s : the club needs to make some important thank you's, as all of this activity doesnt occur without the help and support of many people/groups. So special thanks to : Tony Paatsch and his team at the College : all our generous sponsors lead by Major Sponsor The Moonee Ponds Club, Platinum Sponsors - John Fawkner Hospital, Nelson Alexander Real Estate & Strathmore Community Branch - Bendigo Bank and all the other sponsors listed on : all our coaches, team managers and those in volunteer roles : all our dedicated players and their parents and our Diamond Dog Coterie members, Ladies Network members, life members, members and all those that support our lunches and special events.

Everyone’s support and assistance is helping St Bernard’s FC operate its strong core football activities, but also to very importantly be more than just a football club.

Thanks and regards on behalf of the Committee

Patrick Crabb

Patrick Crabb