From the Record: North Wagga
Together as One
Amalgamation Promises Bright Future for North Wagga Saints.
Douglas Connor – 3rd June 2017
Amalgamation is never easy. Joining two clubs, two cultures and two groups of people together is always bound to present a unique set of challenges.
At the beginning of the 2017 season, the North Wagga Saints merged with North Wagga Junior AFC to form the newly coined North Wagga Australian Football Netball Club.
Under the new title, NWAFNC has flown out of the blocks in the new season, winning 5 matches from 6 and showing the Farrer league why they should be considered genuine title contenders this year.
According to club president Mick Barnes, the amalgamation is key for the future of the club by ensuring a continued supply of talented youngsters into the senior setup.
“We have been working hard on building a structure that looks after the kids and the parents, it’s all running well now. It was something we needed to do to ensure our long-term survival as a club, the way that footy is moving forward. “It’s been a massively positive move, the sceptics at the beginning are coming around now.”
“We’ve always had good junior development, we are just working closely on that relationship and trying to make it a bit more seamless, “he said.
Coach Kirk Hamblin says that while the process of merging the clubs had not been easy, considering the sheer number of people to please; that long-term benefits would outweigh the short-term difficulties experienced by the board and the playing group.
“There’s definitely been challenges involved in joining the two clubs, but everyone from both the junior and senior club are starting to see all the benefits. The main thing was to make sure that our junior netballers and footballers can progress through into the senior club. That’s going to prove to be the case, and the progression will be much smoother.”
According to Hamblin, one of the biggest successful changes this season is the commitment of the senior playing group to pitch in and contribute to the training of the club’s juniors. “We’re seeing the young guys come through at training now. In mid-May we hosted a junior-senior day and we had a lot of the senior boys come down and we took the under 8’s, 10’s,11’s, 12’s and 15’s through their training drills. It was an absolute success, the boys had a lot of fun and all the parents were very happy for the kids being involved in the seniors.”
Mick Barnes echoed that sentiment, recognising how important it was to get young players comfortable around the senior club, and ready to step up when called upon. “We’ve had a big emphasis on getting the seniors involved in coaching the young guys this year. Takes away the unknown from stepping up to the senior club. It can be an intimidating change from junior to senior football.”
The board will meet next Monday to review the amalgamation process to decide what needs to change or be improved upon for the remainder of the season and into the future.
This Saturday marks a special occasion for the Saints, as the club celebrates its 8th annual ladies’ and sponsors day. The club has a long history of providing donations raised on ladies’ day to breast cancer research and the Pink Ribbon appeal, but this year the club is raising money for a more personal cause.
“We’ve been doing it about 7 years and raised over $65,000. We are taking a year off the pink guernseys this time around, we have a long serving family involved within the club that is dealing with serious illness so the money we raise this year will be donated towards them.”
“The kids used to play here and the family has been involved off the field for many years. This year we can directly help one of our own, which is fantastic.”
The day is made even more exciting with the prospect of a tantalising top of the table clash with the currently unbeaten Marrar Bombers.
“Massive day in the footy for us. All of our three grades are competing in top of the table clashes this Saturday. We’ve only lost once and they are still unbeaten so we hope to knock them off their perch. I hope that history will be in our favour again this year, in the seven years of hosting ladies’ day I think we’ve only lost one game of footy, so fingers crossed,” said Barnes.
Hamblin said that the boys were keen to see how they stacked up against the league leaders. “It’s going to be a really tough game against Marrar. They are the benchmark of the competition at this point, I just want a competitive effort from the boys and hopefully give us a good measure of where we are at.”
The weekend will be made more special again, as the club celebrates with Troy Curtis as he plays his 100th game for the club, a fantastic milestone for any player.