AFL Victoria chief operating officer Steven Reaper says it’s not all doom and gloom for his former club Kyneton, and that the town’s juniors coming through gives the Tigers hope for the future.
Due to a lack of senior quality players, Kyneton won’t field a senior team in the Bendigo Football League this year, but Reaper – a dual premiership player with the Tigers – says the club can prosper again.
“We (AFL Victoria) have been working hard with the league and the club for not only the past four to six weeks, but it has been an ongoing process,” Reaper said yesterday.
“Unfortunately, it has culminated in the fact they are not able to get enough quality players to field a competitive senior team.
“While that’s disappointing in its own right, I don’t think it’s all doom and gloom for the club.
“There are some new people potentially wanting to get involved, and we’ll work on that in 2013 with a view to the side coming back in 2014.
“That’s going to require a lot of hard work from not only the existing people within the club, but also some newer people and assistance from the league to get it to the point where we can attract a coach to the position who can look to rebuild the club from 2014 onwards.”
Reaper said a positive for the Tigers was they still had the option to continue to field netball teams and lower grade football sides.
“There’s certainly still a heartbeat within the club and there’s some very strong juniors coming through,” Reaper said.
“And there’s good strong numbers in the junior netball as well, so they are building their capacity.
“It’s a bit unprecedented that while a club is still up and running that they don’t have a senior team.
“We’ve seen examples last year of clubs like Great Western, who didn’t play at all last year, but they look like fielding teams at all levels in their competition this year.
“Trentham has been through it where they have gone into recess and come out of it and are doing well.
“It just takes a lot of hard work and getting the right people involved with the right business plans and structures to get them back on track.”
The Tigers’ current woes are a far cry from the glory years of 1995 and 1997 when Reaper was part of premiership teams at the club coached by Derrick Filo.
“It goes around in cycles, because that was a period when they had good juniors coming through, and those juniors hooked up with some fairly experienced senior players,” Reaper said.
“That’s probably what Kyneton has been lacking these past few years, the experienced senior players in that 25 to 30 age group who you can build a team around.
“They haven’t been there, so it will take some time to get those players back.
“But the huge positive for the club is they have some strong juniors coming through and very good players in amongst there.
“It’s not all doom and gloom by any means, but no doubt, there’s a lot of very hard work that needs to be done to reinvigorate the culture within the club and make it an inclusive place where people want to go and play.
“It’s a growing population in the town, but there are probably too many people who live in the town, but play in different competitions.
“You’ve got to change that culture so the players say, ‘I grew up in the town, I want to play for the club’.”