Established in 1982, Westbrook Junior Australian Football Club marked its 35th birthday in 2017. We are deeply woven into the fabric of AFL Sydney Juniors and continue to be a leading club with initiatives driving growth and development not only for ourselves, but across the region.
Back in 2013 when I first became President, our committee agreed on some guiding principles of for the club. These were:
All kids to be able to play AFL, from those with higher aspirations to those who like a ‘kick in the park’ with mates
Foster a positive environment
Develop quality coaches
Inclusion of all club members
Develop not just footballers, but young adults
Preserve the balance of family, sport and life
Provide good experiences
Whilst we will always have opportunities to do better, the fact that we have grown every year has reinforced that these principles are still valid today and we must ensure we live them always. Premierships come and go, but values endure.
Our partnership with Hornsby Berowra Eagles is going strong and the Northern Lights brand has become further established with all Youth age groups falling under the Alliance structure. The addition of merchandise now makes the look complete. We also welcomed Pennant Hills Juniors Demons into the U15 age group this season to ensure the objectives of participation and development could be offered by all three clubs. Thank you to the many individuals who worked hard to make this a success.
From one team in 2016, we now have three teams participating. The North West Lightning, an alliance between Westbrook, Pennant Hills and Hornsby, has been outstanding. There is such positive energy with these teams that every time they play at Mike Kenny Oval, it ends up being the highlight of the round.
Under 8s – 3 teams
Westbrook worked hard to get this competition going and we are now reaping the benefits. The growth in numbers saw us field three teams in an age group for the first time. We introduced our inaugural ‘White’ team, which complements our Blues and Reds perfectly.
We have been passionate about developing and supporting umpires and we had 21 Westbrook aligned individuals represent us in the Harbour this year. There were 9 new umpires and the group also included 3 of our girls. Members from this fine group have taken control of club, school, representative and finals football. For the first time, over 500 individual umpires have officiated games in a single AFL Sydney Juniors season. Who was the 500th? Our very own Manisha Kulasinghe was named as the milestone umpire!
Saturday Night Alive – our biggest and best ever!
We wanted our evening to be different to a normal game day and with lights, music, football, the Big Kick, BBQ, raffles, auctions, cake stall, and pink hair booth, we created an awesome atmosphere at Greenway Park for around 1000 people, including the 20 teams, our Auskickers, and their supporters. Not only was it a chance to showcase AFL, we also took the opportunity to support the National Breast Cancer Foundation’s Pink Ribbon on the eve of Mother’s Day. We proudly raised almost $2500 from all the activities. This is an important event to me personally, but nights like this don’t just happen, and a number of individuals went over and above to assist myself and my family to bring it to life.
Representative & Development Day Carnival success
The Sydney Juniors Representative & Development Day Carnivals held over the June long weekend were a great success. We had a scare early in the week with huge rainfall predicted, but the grounds opened and 65 teams and 4000 visitors made their way to Cherrybrook which was pumping with the sounds of cheers & sirens for over 30 hours. The efforts of the volunteers from Westbrook, Regional Committees and AFL Sydney Juniors, and the umpires, coaches & managers were much appreciated.
Trivia Night – a great celebration!
Close to 100 club members donned their favourite club colours and put their brains to the test. Thank you to our organising committee led by Narelle Irwin, with assistance from Janelle Murdoch (also the lead with the Chocolate drive), Ingrid Kohlhagen, Angela Hawkins, Jackie Mardling and Phil Murdoch, for creating such a fun event for the club. Thank you also goes to the support we received from a range of local businesses and individuals to ensure some additional funds were raised as well.
Swans, GWS, Half-Time Auskick and Gala Days
We love creating great experiences and memories, and visits from the Sydney Swans Brandon Jack, Michael Talia, Jordan Foote and Will Hayward certainly entertained our Westbrookers by answering questions and sharing their experiences. Many Auskickers experienced half-time games at Sydney Swans matches, and GWS offered many complimentary tickets to some of their games. All non-competition teams had gala days as finales to their season, with Westbrook again putting our hand up to host the Under 8 and Under 10 gala days for the North West.
Player Development & Longevity
This season has seen the benefits of the club’s focus on Auskick over a long period. In 2017, we have had 7 players receive 10 year service awards, 5 players reach 100 game milestones, and 28 players make their 50th game milestone. Thank you for your loyalty and love of the game.
Westbrook JAFC would like to express our gratitude for the generous donations to and sponsorship of our club. Without prudent management of expenses and the goodwill of sponsors, we simply cannot deliver on our promise of providing a great experience.
We welcomed MJ Group Real Estate and their presence on many game days, Compass Pools, and The Lane Café as sponsors this season.
Our club also thanks the ongoing contribution of: Pickles Auctions; Snap Printing for our new colour yearbook; Your Health Sport and Spine for the care they provided to players; Image Traders for the new website; WPH Sports Club for their facilities; Dr Ken Lipworth; and Precise Dental Surgery.
Towards 2018 – Volunteer change of guard.
The results we deliver are due to the hard work of many. Whilst we never set an objective of premierships, the fact that we had a 2 Premierships and a record 8 teams play past the first round of finals is reward for doing the right things. We are proud of the individual players who earned Sydney Harbour awards and the current and past players who have gone onto higher levels, but the volunteer element is what needs to set our club apart. Dale Sparks and I received nominations for Volunteer of the Year, which we are thankful for, and we are proud of being part of something bigger than ourselves.
After 5 years as President and 10 years of dedicated service, I have decided it is time to step down and allow for a transition to new volunteers while I have some time left in Junior football. I am proud of the brand we have built, our values, and our lead on initiatives. Clubs add a lot to communities and give purpose to many. This is a legacy we must ensure continues and the step to being involved is not a big one. Westbrook is a fantastic junior football club; your help next year will ensure we keep it that way.