How time flies. Its seems like only yesterday that I was preparing for the 2019 season. And now I found myself looking back on what was another a great year.
As a club, we are well positioned to continue to prosper and provide kids in the Lane Cove area an avenue to not only keep fit, but develop life long skills for life in general.
However, we also lost one of our great stalwarts. Steve Chisholm, our founder and spiritually leader lost his battle with cancer earlier this year. We are forever indebted to him. Our thoughts and prayers are with this family.
We experienced another strong year with overall growth around 15%. We fielded a record 16 teams across the U8 to U14 age groups, including 4 JV teams and 3 girls teams.
One of the proudest initiatives I think the club has been involved with was the Disability Program. We were one of only SIX clubs to be part of the inaugural All Abilities program in AFL Sydney. This program targeted players with a intellectual disability, such as autism. We hosted one of the five gala days, as well as providing support at the other venues.
A lot of the time, these kids just want to be considered part of the normal cohort. So when we had a family reach out and ask if their son could play in one of our regular teams, we did everything in our power to make it happen. Jacob Brown is a true age U11 boy but attends main stream primary school at the year below his age (year 4). He has autism spectrum disorder (ASD) with a moderate intellectual disability. With the help of the AFL, we were able to get special dispensation for him to play in U10s within a few days. He ended up donning the LCC colours in round 5 this year.
We couldn’t of done this without the huge support of Roger Moten and Mic Lumley and all the boys from Team Hawkins. They welcomed him with open arms and treated him like just any other boy in the team.
Thank to all those that have so far responded to our member survey. I would like to quickly address some of the issues that have been raised from this.
We are still trying to find the right formula for the joint venture arrangement with North Ryde. And we have made some mistakes along the way. In particular, the U11 JV was not the right structure and sadly some boys ended up having a disappointing experience this year.
For that, we are sorry. We could of done better, and work work over the summer to make it a much more enjoyable experience for future kids.
But we can’t ignore the fact that the livelihood of our club will be dependent on this arrangement. In Sydney, junior numbers drop sharply when transitioning from primary school to secondary school. As an example, registrations were 850 in U10, to 820 in U12 and 670 in U13 and 580 in U14. That’s a 30% fall over 4 years.
As such, there is an increasing reliance on JVs across the Sydney region. In 2019, there were 23 teams in the U14 age group. Of these, 40% were JV teams. This is up from 20% in 2017.
In our region, there are club alliances such as the Canada Bay, Northern Lights and Willoughby Mosman. There are also multiple JV teams from clubs including Pennant Hills, North Ryde, Glebe & Newtown.
So we are determined to make this work. Such arrangements are clearly the best way for us to enable kids to enjoy their footy by playing at the right level.
In today’s world where the digital revolution is seeing more and more of use become less engaged with the community around us, the role of community organisations take on increase importance.
I don’t think there is any better community spirit found in junior sporting codes than in Australian Rules football. And at Lane Cove Cats, we pride ourselves as being a family friendly club that give every child a chance to enjoy this great game of ours.
We don’t solely focus on only the highly talented juniors who have dreams of playing in the elite competition. We want to be a club where kids can enjoy playing their footy with their mates. That is why a joint venture is so important. It will allow us to provide teams that meat everyone’s needs.
I’m really proud of our girls program, thanks to the hard work of our committee, lead by our youth girls coordinator Greg Byrne. Greg was in fact awarded the Youth Coach of the Year at the recent awards night for AFL Sydney Juniors.
This bodes well for the future direction of this program. In 2020 we are looking to enter a team in the U16 division, adding to our current U10, U12 and U14 groups.
We will be conducting the JuniorX tournament over summer once again. This is a great way to keep your skills up during the off-season. However, its also a great way for new people to the sport. Please read here for more information.
And of course, for all those parents who have been inching to show their kids how well they can play, your chance has arrived. The spring season of the AFL9s competition is just around the corner.
If you are interested in getting more involved with the club, we are always looking for more volunteers. Please contact myself, or any member of the committee if you want any more information. No offer is too big or too small.
If you ready to committee, why not come along to the 2019 AGM to be conducted at the Diddy on Wed 23 October. Click here for more information.
Hope to see you all back at the club in 2020!