By David Nagel
SOUTH EAST FOOTBALL NETBALL LEAGUE – BERWICK’S LEADERS
Leadership is not about a title or a designation – it’s about impact, influence and inspiration.
Impact involves getting results, influence is about spreading the passion you have for your work, and you inspire your mates through your actions.
Welcome to Berwick’s premiership-winning leadership group of 2017.
From the impact of president Glenn Gambetta and his team, to the influence of first-year coach Stewart Kemperman and his staff, right through to the inspirational on-field leadership of Madi Andrews – the Berwick Football Club has got it right.
And it’s a water-tight ship, with evidence of that provided at roughly this time last year.
Kemperman, a legendary figure at Noble Park, had agreed to sign on with the Wickers – but not one rumour, one leak, got out.
It started the journey between coach and club on exactly the right foot.
“It garnered a lot of respect between myself and the club, and about the way the committee would carry itself,” Kemperman said after Saturday’s epic performance.
“My roots as a junior are at Berwick, I played senior footy with Berwick in the early 2000s, so there’s a connection there, but the way that unfolded last year, from both sides, really built a solid foundation and trust.”
So why did Berwick, already entrenched as a top-two contender, take a punt on a first-year coach?
“It definitely wasn’t a punt,” Gambetta said, as the final siren loomed on Saturday.
“We did our due diligence and we knew exactly what we were getting with Stew. Not a just a bloke with a great football head but the sort of person we wanted … he fit the bill 100 percent.
“I’m just rapt for the players and coaching staff because they’ve worked so hard to get this. I told them on Thursday night to just do it for themselves because they’ve worked hard and really deserve it. They came with high expectations and they delivered.”
Gambetta said he was feeling pressure himself after losing his first grand final as president against Cranbourne last year. His predecessor Simon Curtis had claimed all four flags up for grabs in 2015.
“It’s been a bit of a joke around the club, ‘get Simon back, get Simon back, we win flags with Simon”, Gambetta said, clearly sick of the joke.
“And I wasn’t looking forward to becoming the only president to lose two grand finals in a row either. The pressure was right on.”
Gambetta was in a reflective mood as he waited for the final siren to sound.
“I’m emotional more than anything,” he said.
“The club really took time to recover from setbacks from the past but I think we’re on the right track now, we’re getting success and not underachieving like many of us thought we were. Really, we’re only a small club, with a small committee but a hard-working committee and it’s just reward for those people at the end of the day as well.”
Gambetta wanted to thank his vice-presidents Simon Curtis and Russell Trait, the club’s football manager Bruce Andrews, treasurer Belinda O’Sullivan and secretary Mandy Gunn, and the club’s hard-working band of volunteers for their support.
As for Kemperman – well he was keen to share the love as well, starting with his family.
“On a personal level, my wife Aimee has been enormous, with three kids under three, she’s just been such a solid rock and without her support and the work she does with kids, to allow me the space to think, the space to work, the time to prepare and go to training, all this wouldn’t be possible,” he said.
“My old man John has stepped up late to be team manager and my mum Cathryn has stepped up as well, collecting fees and helping out on Thursday nights at the club, just creating a really good atmosphere at the place.”
Kemperman said his parents had played a huge role in making him the man he is today.
“They’ve been everything, you couldn’t do it without them,” he said.
“From a family side of things, my parents have taught us to put family on a pedestal and have such an enormous amount of respect for one and other. Those lessons in life, like being hard workers, earning everything you achieve, those foundations and values came from mum and dad.”
Kemperman agreed that the extra responsibility of coaching gave this premiership a different feel to his previous success stories as a player at Noble Park.
“The feeling is a bit different,” he said.
“I’m very proud of being a player and winning a premiership, but it’s another level of satisfaction when your boys get over the line and realise their potential. And it’s recognition of the team off the field as well.
“The assistants that I’ve got, like Jason Kelly, Todd Devine, Chris Kyriacou, Stewie Griffin, Leigh Noonan and Matty Castricum, we’re not shy in sharing our opinions and that’s a really healthy environment to be in. This is all a credit to those guys and what they’ve put in as well.”
Kemperman signed off by thanking everyone at the club, from Gambetta, Curtis, Trait and Bruce Andrews, right through to players, volunteers and support staff.
Gambetta said he was preparing for a massive party to celebrate the seniors and reserves premierships.
“We ordered eight or nine kegs in, but I think we under-ordered, we might have to get a few more in after this.”