Kinglake Football Netball Club had a year of complete contrast across both football and netball, as they navigated its way through a disruptive season.
The footballers had a great run to record minor premierships in seniors and under 17’s as well as a third placing for the reserves, but the netball squad struggled for participation numbers and managed to field sides in B and C grade only.
Reflecting on the season, club president Clinton Robinson said the 2021 season was frustrating because of its stop-start nature but still described it as a success for the footballers.
“It was a shame that everything was halted when they were starting to progress well because they would have had a good chance come finals time,” Robinson said.
“However, everything was good and it holds us in a great position to have another go in 2022.”
One thing that had become clear for the Lakers this season was the emergence of its youth, which Robinson described as being the highlight of the year.
The ever-present nature of many talented young players at the club is a reflection on Kinglake’s desire to improve where they previously lacked in this space.
The seniors also had players under the age of 21, showing signs of a changing of the guard where the playing list is in a strong position with young kids who shape up to be the future of the club.
This can be attributed to senior coach Andrew Fairchild who has held a big influence at the club since he first walked through the doors at Extons Road.
“Andrew has been fantastic because he has really changed the culture of the place,” Robinson said.
“He communicates and works so well individually and has done a great job in getting the team to gel.
“The young guys love it, they really enjoy having someone of his experience.”
Indeed, some of the standout players within the club this year were from the young guns, with Riley Kennedy and Tom Clarke making their senior debuts in round one and maintaining their spot throughout the year.
Rohan King took control of the midfield as captain, as the team dealt with injuries along the way.
In an 18-month period where community sport has been impacted by COVID-19 and put further pressure on clubs from an operational perspective, the Lakers have always had good support from dedicated volunteers and Robinson is grateful for all the work they have done to assist in the running of this year’s campaign.
“I am super proud of everyone’s efforts,” he said.
“The volunteers we have do an amazing job and take on more than they should have to but we’re extremely lucky to have people that continue to put their hand up and help out.
“We’re also lucky to have a playing group that are always happy to put their hand up and help out behind the scenes too which is great.”
Looking into the off season and 2022, Kinglake are clear in its ambition to improve participation numbers in the netball department, where it is hoped more people can be recruited from the town and outside the area to bolster the talent in A grade.
Targeting players of a young age is the key, just as it was for football, but Robinson believes the club have the right people in charge to make the improvements.
While football is already in a strong position off the back of hard work completed over the last few years, it is all about consolidation and reigniting the motivation among the playing group to go after the success again in 2021.
“I don’t think we need to do a lot different,” Robinson mentioned.
“We just need to try and get that motivation up again to get over what’s occurred over the last couple of years and make sure the work that’s been done over the last few years doesn’t go to waste so we can have another crack next season.”
Robinson thanked all the members of the club and the sponsors for their assistance during trying times, as well as AFL Outer East for doing everything possible to get community sport back in 2021.
“I appreciate everything that Aaron and the team have done to get community sport back and play as much of it as we possibly could,” Robinson said.
“They’ve done a great job at staying connected with all the clubs to play as much as we could and I don’t think they could have done any more.”
|ATC Traffic Division Two||1st||9||1|
|PFG Australia Division Two Reserves||3rd||7||3|
|Box Hill Institute U17 Boys||1st||7||1|
|Kärcher Division Two B Grade||8th||1||9|
|Kärcher Division Two C Grade||8th||0||10|