2018 – New Beginnings Underpinned by Solid Foundations; Community, Sustainability, Achievement.

4 MAR | BY BRENTON WESTELL

With just over a month till the start of the official Adelaide Footy League 2018 Season, it’s timely to consider where we’ve come from and what the season has in store.. read on for our season preview article:

For the senior arm of the club, the 4 years 2012 to 2015 marked one of, if not the, most successful period in the club’s history. The Div 4 premiership, 3 GF appearances, and, ultimately, promotion to Div 1 made for heady times and was a just reward for the vision of Troy Hall and the entire club community. Add to this the ever-growing popularity of our Junior Program, and it was indeed the “right time to be a Jet”.

Each year brought greater challenges on field and off, albeit with the sense we were ‘punching above our weight’ given the longer established and more powerful clubs we were beginning to come up against. That reality eventually came home to roost when Unley Mercedes achieved the dream of making the elite division of amateur footy in SA, only to be relegated after finishing 9th that same year. Whilst the Div 1 experience was a complete reversal of fortune given the preceding seasons successes, it demonstrated to us what was needed, beyond enthusiasm and commitment, to be competitive at the top level.

Hence 2017 saw a solid rebound in Division 2, and although missing out on finals by a one game margin, the feared fall back through the grades, seen so many times in other ascendant clubs, was averted. It was also a season where work commenced on reviewing and restructuring the Football Operations Department, to establish a modern day “best practice” philosophy.

After relinquishing the coaching role, Troy remained intimately involved to assist the process and the sourcing and development of new talent. Assistant Coach Kane Stewart was successful in seeking the Senior Coaching position and set about finding individuals to compliment the squad with the efforts so far by he and the recruiting team being outstanding. The key appointment of Michael Doughty (ex-Adelaide Crows) in the newly created role of ‘Head of Football’ being arguably the highlight of the off-season developments.

It’s also highly pleasing to see players “graduating” from our junior program moving into our senior grades, and a steady influx of Mercedes College Old Scholars, continuing their football career now graduated from school. The Jets already have a large contingent of “one club” players who continued from the juniors and college into senior footy, including eight 150 game veterans in the current squad.

No-one is naïve to the challenges of Division 2 in 2018, with power house teams such as Brighton (Div 3 Premiers in 2017 after moving from the SFL) and the Div 1 relegated Salisbury North, being heavily fancied, but, in the amateur league more than anywhere, clubs can surprise with sudden form and any one of the 10 teams could press for premiership contention. Our restructure and recruitment over the last 6 months has us well positioned in that mix, and fits well with our key aim of “Sustainability”.

Fourth term Club President, Rod Stuart, summarised his personal goals for the season ahead, those being, seniors returning to finals action, the fielding our first girl’s teams, and finalising our building redesign and funding submissions.

“Achieving each of these goals presents major challenges for the club which we have already begun to address” Rod said. “Restructuring our Senior Football department and recruiting key people to take on the roles to achieve our goal of establishing ourselves as a top amateur league club for the longer term” he continued. “We can’t understate how our association with Mercedes College has contributed to the realistic expectations around this aim.”

“The establishment of the position of Female Football Co-ordinator is a fantastic first step in creating an environment to attract and develop female footballers, and Nikki Robinson has taken on the role with enormous enthusiasm” he said.

Rod went on to say, “On the planned improvements to our facility here at Kingswood, we’ve had significant discussions with other key stakeholders and design concept are in development. Funding has been, and remains, the biggest hurdle to overcome but options are being explored.”

“Our superb junior program continues to be a magnet for families looking for a great club environment and due to the ongoing hard work of our Junior Coordinator, Brenton Milewski, we’re looking to have around 400 juniors involved with the club this year.” Rod concluded.

One of the best developments in the recent history of the club is undoubtedly the formation of the “Wing Women”, our female supporter fundraising group. Not only improving the club’s bottom line, the social fabric of our club community is enriched by the events themselves and the networks, both internally and externally, developed. Chris McMahon and her team are already on the job planning for the season ahead, with the annual Ladies Day once again set for the first senior home game, Round 2, on April 14th. The event is in it’s 5th year in the current format and goes from strength to strength, attracting up to 200 female friends and family each year.

There are too many positives to explore in a single news story, but it would be remiss not to mention the ongoing support of our fabulous sponsors. In addition to the ongoing Major Sponsorship by Silvio Luksich and Ian King of Telstra Stores Unley and Norwood, the long-standing association with The TA Hotel and Sam McInnes as “Hospitality Partner”, and the invaluable contribution by MOSA led by the tireless efforts of Anne Morse, our other corporate partners continue to provide essential financial and in-kind support to our operations. We direct all Jets people to our sponsor pages here: https://unleyfootballclubinc.teamapp.com/sponsors and encourage people to consider their services when the need arises.

Also newsworthy, two of our sponsors have made the commitment to significantly increase their level of assistance to the club. Joining John Wauchope’s CV Constructions and Emerald Custom Homes as a “Key Partner”, are Bathrooms and Kitchens SA, and Harcourt VennMillar Col. Light Gardens. A huge thanks to Paul and Stacey Hutchison, and Stephen Venn and John Millar respectively for their contribution. There is no doubt that this reflects the growing reputation of The Jets as a professionally run amateur club and the commitment from the community that engenders.

There is no doubt that as the 2018 season approaches there is a renewed vigour, and a refreshed sense of anticipation. Make sure you hang on for the ride.

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