BALWYN GREYTHORN JETS & BOROONDARA HAWKS MERGER INTO BALWYN TIGERS JUNIOR FOOTBALL CLUB
Why are the Jets and Boroondara Hawks merging with the Balwyn Tigers FC?
The merger has been designed to amalgamate resources and create one club with a clear pathway for players of all levels in our region – from Auskick up into a premier senior football club and importantly, their U19 boys and girls programmes. A key focus will be the development of a high quality offering for a girls football pathway.
The pooling of resources and the financial support from the Balwyn Tigers senior club will allow the juniors to employ a Head of Junior Football Development Manager to work with our coordinators at all age groups. Furthermore, our recruitment strategies across all age groups, including the important early drivers in Auskick and Under 8 footy will be bolstered allowing many of these programmes to be implemented for the first time.
Why can’t the Jets & Boroondara Hawks just continue in their current state?
Continuing in our current state means existing challenges for the Jets and Boroondara Hawks would likely continue. There are a limited number of willing volunteers to take up committee positions at the Jets and the Boroondara Hawks, which puts independent sustainability of each club at jeopardy. Consolidating the clubs means the work will be spread more evenly amongst committee volunteers, plus the introduction of the Balwyn Tigers’ funding of some roles means some of the work previously falling on volunteers will now be with a paid position.
Player registrations have been falling across junior clubs in the region, and are projected to continue to fall. To combat this the Jets have been heavily discounting registrations in an attempt to attract new players and relying on exceptional sponsorship revenue and successful, but effort intensive, fundraising to break-even financially.
Being associated with the Balwyn Tigers senior football club provides a partner with significant financial and human resources to support more strategic initiatives and greater investment in football programs, which in turn should help to attract potential junior registrations to the club due to the superior offering when compared to other junior clubs in the area.
Do we have any candidates for the Head of Junior Football Development role?
Yes, we are very excited to announce that Vince Dattoli has accepted the role in principle. Vince is well known to many as the business operator behind Vida Footy, Vida Tennis and Vida Fitness based at the Veneto Club in Bulleen.
Vince has held many senior coaching positions over the last 15 years, but is most well known for his recent roles as the Carey Grammar Boys First XVIII Head Coach over the last 8 years and his work as the Head Coach of the Yarra Magpies (YJFL Rep) Boys programme during the same period.
Vince is keen to get started in the post season to prepare for the summer ahead. Key aspects of his scope include building a vision and philosophy behind the Tigers Football Academy that will primarily focus on Under 15 up to U19 football for boys and girls, which will inevitably push through to our more junior teams, with the coaching and player development standards lifted across the board.
Are there any other roles that will be implemented as part of the proposed merger?
We will be taking up the offer from the Balwyn Tigers to make use of their Operations Manager who, in another paid part-time role, will provide much needed administration support to the junior club in the club secretary and Head of Junior Football Development roles.
In addition, the collation of resources from the bottom to the top of the junior club following the merger will allow formalisation of a number of coordinator roles that have been historically difficult to fill each year. An example of this would be the introduction of a girls football coordinator and an Auskick School’s Coordinator who will be responsible for leading and implementing the recruitment strategies within our local school district. Once again, the local primary school connections piece can be significantly improved to drive numbers.
Will the new club be changing our jumpers?
There will be a jumper and playing kit change. The brief around the design has not yet been completed and we expect to field a large number of concepts before making any recommendations.
The committee is discussing a range of options around future registration fees and merchandise to consider how best to ensure local football remains affordable and cost effective for all into the future. Further details will be presented at a later date on the important aspect of playing kits and jumper designs.
Are we going to continue our partnership with Canterbury Cobras at the Under 15 age group and above?
The connection between Canterbury and the Balwyn region is strong. The Cobras will continue to recommend and refer their teams to the Balwyn Tigers Under 15 group for both boys and girls moving forward. The view from a regional perspective is that the continued challenge of team numbers and clashes with other sports or school football at these age groups is best resolved together.
The Tigers Academy will be the leading player development programme in the region for the boys and girls that enter at the Under 15 age groups. Vince and the team of coaches have drafted conceptual preseason programmes that would be the equivalent of many elite football offerings. Player development standards will lift considerably, with kids and families having the option as to how many hours they wish to put into their footy.
If we can continue to work in tandem and create sufficient numbers for two teams at this entry age group then we see huge upsides to the development of the players of all levels. Whether it be a friendship group or elite team football you are chasing, we will have the capacity to offer both and keep our teenagers connected and playing local sport together.
Will we still play in the Yarra Junior League (YJFL)?
Absolutely yes, the junior club will continue to play in the YJFL up to Youth age football for both boys and girls (U17.5). The players will then transition into the Under 19 Tigers Boys or the U18 Tigers Girls programmes to continue their footy development with their local mates.
The Balwyn Tigers senior men will continue to play in the Premier Division of the Eastern Football and Netball League (EFNL), where they will once again be one of the strongest clubs across the 2023 competition.
What will be the benefits for girls footy in the future?
Currently parents and players involved in junior girls football would question what the pathway looks like for girls in the older age groups. We will be looking at ways to solve that challenge and launch the first Balwyn Tigers U18 Junior Girls team in 2024.
A clear line of sight for junior girls footy from AusKick all the way through to this age group will be provided with a beefed up development plan in the AusKick and Under 15 plus age groups to be key performance areas in year one. Beyond year one, the objective is to launch a Balwyn Tigers Women's team in 2025 and play in the EFNL Women’s competition to complete the pathway for our girls now and into the future.
Do we need to change our home grounds or training locations?
No, we are proposing to continue to utilise Balwyn Park Main Oval and the Upper Oval for our more junior teams and girls footy. In addition, the older teams of both boys and girls will play and train at Gordon Barnard Reserve Upper Ground.
Does this mean the Balwyn Tigers’ senior football club will just take over the junior club?
No, the potential for a misalignment between a senior football club who is primarily focused on winning premierships and a junior football club who is primarily focused on participation and inclusion, is acknowledged. While the structural details are yet to be finalised, there will remain a junior club committee that will protect the interests and focus of the junior football club.
What other benefits are gained by the club in the proposed merger?
Operational improvements and efficiencies will be gained by consolidating our clubs sponsors and fundraising efforts, not to mention our buying capacity to keep our costs down. Existing and new sponsor relationships will be able to be shared with our senior club with expectations that the junior club will make significant gains in the commercial and fundraising activities space.
We also have considered the benefits to our local families from a social perspective. In many cases families have children playing across both the Jets and the Boroondara Hawks each week, yet feel disconnected from both or either due to various circumstances. Parents and families feeling connected to each other and enjoying their social time at a fantastic local community club is another driver of performance moving forward. We subscribe to the “village to raise a child” theory and see long term benefits in our teenagers, in particular, socialising in groups where they feel safe and included.
What is the timeline and next steps from here?
The clubs have made a submission to the YJFL and AFL Victoria for consideration. We will not receive any further feedback until the second half of July and, at which time if the submission receives support, we will be calling a Special General Meeting for club members to comment and vote on the next decision for or against the proposal.
Detailed information packages will be provided in the coming weeks as we continue to work through the long list of tasks to complete and prepare for consideration by the club members. In the meantime, we encourage you to reach out to your club president or committee members to add your feedback and ideas around the club proposal.
The clubs would like to complete the current football season with a clear understanding of the position for 2024 which will allow the appointment and allocation of all junior executive roles along with coaches and football coordinator positions in the early stages of the post-season.
If you would like to reach out to the club presidents, they can be contacted by email:
Jets President – David Fileccia firstname.lastname@example.org
Boroondara Hawks President – Adam Carrozza BoroondaraHawks.email@example.com