By Meg Kennedy
The big boss of footy, AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan, has chosen Bacchus Marsh as the location to announce the AFL’s newest investment into country football clubs.
Mr McLachlan appeared at Maddingley Park last Tuesday, 17 September, to announce a new funding initiative for football leagues across regional Victoria.
The AFL will partner with the Victorian Government to invest $18 million into Victorian country football from 2020 to 2022.
The initiative includes the removal of all AFL Victoria affiliation fees, as well as the removal of umpire registration fees and significant reduction in the cost of club apparel.
The funding will also include an extra $1.5 million per year for a ‘Strategic Community Investment Fund’, which will allow for immediate response to local league and club needs including short-term financial support, growing and supporting female participation, accessing and developing applications for grant funding, and broader, regional club support.
Mr McLachlan said it was “great to be at a local football club, [there’s] a lot of history here, and a very strong club.”
“The AFL is committed to achieve the long-term growth of community football, so clubs like Bacchus Marsh continue to be the centre of their communities, and give girls, boys, men and women the opportunity to play footy; and most importantly, give them somewhere where they can belong,” he said.
BMFNC General Manager Adam Sutherland told the Moorabool News it was “awesome” to have the head of the AFL at the grounds, and that it is “fantastic” the club will save $10,000 as part of the funding.
“It is so hard for any football club to raise $10,000. We will pass it on in regard to better facilities around the club, and hopefully membership increases,” he said.
“The last thing we want to do is pass on membership increases to our parents and players, so this will definitely help in that area.”
Football leagues in the AFL Goldfields region are set to save a combined total of $471,097 – the highest amount of the Victorian Country Football Regions.
AFL Goldfields Acting Regional General Manager Simon Dwyer said the announcement offers clubs “immediate financial relief through the removal of all AFL Victoria affiliation fees, and also provides greater resources to assist club volunteers.”
“Initiatives like this will go a long way in supporting the sustainability of community football throughout our region,” he said.
According to the AFL, the three-year funding announcement marks the largest investment in country football in Victoria in more than 20-years.