Tonight I informed our playing group and support staff that the Bendigo Football Club will not be renewing its VFL license beyond this year. It has been one of the hardest decisions I have ever been a part of, and it was certainly one that was made after exhausting all options. Whilst it is a devastating blow for our community, the decision is the right one.
We have operated a Club competing in the best league outside the AFL without the resources many local sporting clubs enjoy, and as a group have never focussed on what we don’t have, rather focusing on what we do have. Unfortunately without some of these resources in the foreseeable future it means that we are not in a position to continue holding our license.
To have a successful and sustainable VFL Club you require the support from various Stakeholders, and whilst we have great membership numbers, and support from our Business Partners, and AFL Victoria support, unfortunately the support from other stakeholders is severely lacking or non-existent. Whilst the non-renewal of the license will be vigorously debated within the media over the coming weeks, our decision should be treated as a warning to some of the stakeholders that we need to support elite sport in Bendigo or it will be gone.
I could not be prouder of what we have built over the last year and a half, and whilst we remain winless, I believe the culture we have created within our club would be the envy of most other football clubs. This Culture has been created by having extraordinary people involved in our Club, ably lead by our Senior Coach Aussie Jones. Lesser individuals would have walked away from our club after the first year, but Aussie has continued to tirelessly support our players and the community. It has been an honour for me to work along-side Aussie, and anyone who has come in contact with Aussie will realise what a great leader and selfless individual he is. Our support staff have also shown how willing they are to sacrifice their time in supporting a pathway for our young men who wish to strive to become the absolute best they can.
I could not be prouder of our playing group. They are a remarkable bunch of young men, who will not take a backward step. These young men will be the cornerstone of our communities moving forward because they are so focussed on being the best they can be, and are always willing to sacrifice their time for people less fortunate within our community. Two weeks ago, on the Monday after a bitterly disappointing defeat our team sacrificed their time to build a deck for a person within our community that has suffered some recent tragedies. One of these players got to training that night and suggested our group should be doing one of these a month, and spoke about how much he personally benefitted from the opportunity. This group is truly remarkable, and all their parents should be extremely proud of them.
Finally I would personally like to thank each of you. Through the support you have shown by becoming a member, it has allowed the retention until now of a very important asset to our community. You have played a very important role in supporting our young group. We are lucky as a Club to enjoy the best supporter base within the VFL.
We are determined to play this year out in a way that shows respect to the Clubs brief history over the past 16 years, and respect to all those that make our club what it is. Your support as members so far has been greatly appreciated, and with three games left at the QEO it’s a great opportunity to get around our boys.
Once again, Thank-you, and we look forward to seeing you at our remaining games.