Officer celebrate what the future holds

From left: Officer president Nick McLennan, AFL Yarra Ranges general manager Aaron Bailey, Cardinia Shire mayor Cr Collin Ross , Eastern Victoria MP Daniel Mulino, Federal Member for La Trobe MP Jason Wood, Cr Brett Owen (Ranges Ward) SEFNL commissioner Ryan Ford and Officer vice president Lachlan Balzary at the luncheon on Saturday. 182900 Pictures: ROB CAREW

By Nick Creely

On Saturday 14 July, the Officer Senior Football Club hosted its annual VIP and Life Members Luncheon, with more than 60 people in attendance prior to the home clash against Doveton.

Now that the future of football has been secured down at Starling Rd, the focus of the club has now shifted back to the business of football and the first topic people wanted to discuss at the function was the proposed redevelopment of the facility – including new clubrooms overlooking the main oval – with Federal MP for La Trobe Jason Wood announcing a $500,000 financial commitment to the project on the day, with more expected to come.

Mr Wood said he’d fight for additional funding after showing significant support.

“New rooms costs over $2 million and I will fight for the additional federal funding but I need support from the Andrews’s state government and council,” he said.

“It should be noted that local sporting clubs have not received any funding from the Andrews’ state government but the club only thrives due to the council and federal funds and of course the amazing efforts of local supporters and their dedicated club officials.”

Officer vice president Lachlan Balzary said the support of Mr Wood is crucial for the future of the club.

“The club is happy to have received support from our local representatives in relation to the project, with some, including Jason Wood MP already contributing financially toward the proposed development,” he said.

“However, to ensure the projected becomes a reality other levels of government also need to stand up and play their part.”

The special guests in attendance on the day were: Ryan Ford (SEFNL commissioner), Jason Wood MP (Federal Member for La Trobe), Cr Collin Ross (Cardinia Shire mayor), Daniel Mulino MP (Member for Eastern Victoria), Cr Brett Owen (Ranges Ward, Cardinia Shire), Aaron Bailey (AFL Yarra Ranges regional general manager) and Callum Porter (former junior and Western Bulldogs recruit).

AFL Yarra Ranges general manager Aaron Bailey was the guest speaker of the day, talking about the progress and challenges made to bring the six current SEFNL clubs committed to joining for divisional football in 2019.

“We’ve got a little bit of work to do on getting this right,” he said.

“Currently the SEFNL has the same three or four clubs play finals basically for the last ten years, it’s the same with the Yarra Ranges, our top five has basically stayed the same.

“We’ve got work to do in regards to that – essentially, we want to create levels and opportunities for clubs to succeed.”

Officer president Nick McLennan said the annual function was the perfect opportunity to look towards the future as a community.

“The future of football in our region had been uncertain for some time, however the support we have received from our life members and from stakeholders in the local community has been outstanding.

“Our life members have helped shaped our football club, whilst our partners and affiliated have enabled the club to grow and provide facilities and services for our playing group and for this we cannot thank them enough.

“Officer is a suburb that is expected to grow by over 600% in the next 20 years with more than 5 households shifting in every day. This presents both challenges and opportunities for our football club as we seek to offer the best possibly facilities to cater for the current and future demand for football in the region.

“The football club and other user groups are seeking improvement both on and off the field and now that our football future is secure we are turning our attention to much needed facility upgrades, in particular the development of our new clubrooms overlooking the main oval.

“It was great to have Aaron Bailey attend as the guest speaker for the event in what proved to be a very informative discussion. Aaron, along with Ryan Ford have proven to be a breath of fresh air for the club over the past 12 months and have worked tirelessly to ensure the future of football in our region is secure.”