Thornton Eildon Football Netball Club had their most enjoyable and fruitful season for a long time in 2021, where fielding just a women’s football team and one netball side became the spark that lifted the spirits of the Shinboners and instilled in pride into the local area.
Coming off a difficult 18 months where they have not only faced COVID-19 related issues, but financial problems, 2021 was a breath of fresh air where they set about building a new culture of inclusion and spirit for the wider community.
Outgoing Vice President and Treasurer Matt Herridge said his club had a great year where there was lots of change and its members took great ownership of the club.
“I think this has been one of the best and most enjoyable years at Thornton Eildon in a really long time,” he said.
“We all knew what our goal was, and we worked towards that.
“It was about building a positive outlook for everyone to put the past behind us and look towards the future.”
Playing in Kärcher Women’s Division Two, 13 new players of the overall squad took to the field in Round One and they put in a superb effort to win four games while the Kärcher Division Two D Grade side won three games to also shows signs of improvement compared to previous campaigns.
The best players at the Shinboners consisted of playing coach Tash Hay, Lucy McRae, Emily Kerr, Kelly-Anne Fitzpatrick and Rosie Kealy, while Maddie Bednarski and Heather Mason were the standouts in the netball team.
The financial situation the club was embroiled in was almost a chance to derail them, until a new committee was sworn in with new objectives created around culture and a strategy put in place to bring them out of debt and into a strong position.
Mason was appointed as the clubs first female president which sparked a change in culture that will lead Thornton Eildon on a new pathway.
One of these cultural changes included the objective of connecting well with the region and not just be a club in the community, but a club for the community.
Mason was instrumental in obtaining several grants including a $10,000 VicHealth grant that helped to supply healthy meals for those in need in the region, which was heavily supported by the Eildon Lions Club.
By seasons end, the club was in the black for the first time in several years which will now set Thornton Eildon up for a bright future ahead of them.
Herridge is extremely proud of the club for its efforts to achieve this off-field objective and is the result of hard work put in by several people.
“When we realised how much trouble we were in, we could have buried our heads in the sand and walked away,” he explained.
“The female teams could have either folded or played somewhere else, but they didn’t.
“They and the entire club made a decision where they would work together and were able to overcome all the challenges faced this year and come out on top.”
The sense of community, inclusion of all people, and promotion of women’s football in the region was felt by many when UGFM broadcasted its Round Four home game against Officer.
“We are appreciative of the help of Mike Dalmau and Peter Weeks from UGFM who helped facilitate this for us,” Herridge appreciated.
As the club looks towards 2022, they aim to continue building their brand with the objective of being a destination club and growing its female participation base across football and netball.
Improving the facilities to continue making it a more welcoming environment for its players, members and supporter base is also an objective heading in to 2022.
“We want to encourage more people to come along for the right reasons and be involved with the club,” Herridge said.
“Our main goal also is to give back to the community.
“We want to create a welcoming environment for anyone in the community to come along and not be judged, feel welcome and embrace the club and what we have created.”
Herridge thanked all members of Thornton Eildon, as well as its sponsors for their support this year and is already looking forward to what 2022 will produce for the club he loves and has long been associated with.
“If it wasn’t for our supporters and the backing of our sponsors, we wouldn’t be in the position we are today with a bright future,” he said.
“12 months ago we were in a dark place, now we are in a very strong and positive position within the community and financially as well.
“There is a positive vibe around our playing group and they are really keen for next year.”
|Kärcher Women’s Division Two||5th||4||5|
|Kärcher Division Two D Grade||6th||3||7|