Football hub kicks in to help run Bendigo Spirit

Bendigo Bank Spirit chairman Jeremi Moule says the club’s new administrative partnership with Central Victorian Football isn’t about saving money.

The Spirit has employed an administration officer, Jess Lee, who is based at CVF headquarters.

Lee will work alongside CVF to fulfil duties previously carried out by star player and former general manager Kristi Harrower.

Harrower almost quit the Spirit before last Women’s National Basketball League season after a drawn-out disagreement about her playing and administration contracts.

Facing a debt crisis, the Spirit could no longer afford to pay Harrower for her off-court role, although she continued to play for the club.

Now out of financial trouble, the Spirit has employed Lee to work alongside CVF’s sports administration staff – headed by chief executive Steven Oliver.

“The decision wasn’t so much about cost, because in the end it’s not that much different,” Moule said.

“It’s more because where she’s based having people around that can support her, particularly Steven. (To) provide some support and some options when we have periods of time in the season when the amount of work is beyond one person – no matter, really, who they are. 

“We’ve never really had the capacity to expand and contract, the arrangement with Steven supports that expansion and contraction.”

Moule said contract negotiations with Harrower to play this season with the Spirit never included any talk of her taking on the club’s administration duties again.

“That wasn’t part of the discussions with her for recontracting her to play,” Moule said.

“Originally, the arrangements to bring her back to Australia were around being able to package those two components together, but that wasn’t part of the discussions with her around playing this year.”

CVF adds the Spirit to other sporting organisations it runs, including the Bendigo, Heathcote and Loddon Valley football and netball leagues.

“Jess is doing all the admin work for the Spirit, she’s just based up here with us at the hub and we’re giving some management support to her with anything she needs assistance with,” Oliver said.  “We help prepare their financials, so that’s another role. It’s just another sports administration task that we’ve taken on board to see if we can help them out a little bit.”

The Spirit’s 2012-13 WNBL campaign tips-off this Friday in Adelaide against Lightning.  

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