Suns shine as season takes off
Stellar coach Wayne Webber steps up
AUSSIE RULES: The Chinchilla Suns are ready to kick the 2018 AFL season into action.
It’s the club’s seventh year of operation and, for club president Troy Wishnat, it’s time to build on the successes of last year.
“Last year the Darling Downs Football League was a two-tier senior competition,” Wishnat said.
“So there was division one and division two, we played in the division two competition and made the finals, which was a good achievement for the club.”
The club had made the finals a few years prior, with Wishnat explaining it was good for the club to improve and make the finals again in 2017.
“We were knocked out of the finals at the sudden death stage by Highfields who were knocked out subsequently by Dalby who were premiers for the year,” he said.
Throughout the year the club had a number of highlights, one being the Travis Mitchell Cup game where the Suns went head to head against Dalby, coming out with a solid draw.
“I think that shows when we did get all of our things in alignment and everyone performed to the potential that they had we had a really good team, so we hope to build on that this year,” Wishnat said.
There are some changes to the competition this season, with the Darling Downs senior football competition moving to a level-one competition which means there won’t be two separate divisions.
“So there’s 10 teams in the competition this year,” Wishnat said.
“Our expectation is that we would be somewhere in the top half of the comp, probably in that fourth, fifth position to get us the same sort of result as last year to the point of being able to make the finals and see where we go from there.”
It’s been a strong start for the club with “good numbers” attending training, though Wishnat encouraged anyone interested to come down and give the game a go.
“We’ve had a few new guys this year and some really good support from some of the workers around the areas that have had a bit of AFL experience which has been really good.
“The more people we can get involved in the club the better – anyone interested in having a go at a senior type level, doesn’t matter in regards to skill levels, experience any of that sort of stuff,” he said.
“We’ve got a really good bunch of guys from lots of different backgrounds within the area, so even if you just want to come down to meet people.”
Training is on at the Chinchilla Recreation Grounds on Monday and Wednesday nights from 6pm. And players are in good hands, with a stellar new coach, Wayne Webber, coming on board this year.
“We’ve been trying to encourage Wayne to take on the coaching role for the past couple of years,” Wishnat said.
“This year’s the first year that we’ve managed to get him to commit to that position.
“Wayne comes from a country Victoria background so he’s grown up with football all his life, got a huge amount of experience, was the leading goal kicker last year for the competition, so he’s a pretty handy footballer in his own right.
“It’s good to have him on board and be able to pass a bit of that wisdom on to some of the younger kids coming through too.”
As for the junior competition, while there weren’t enough numbers for a Chinchilla team, young players will still get the chance to compete by playing for Dalby,
“As a club we’ve probably recoiled a bit in regards to our juniors,” Wishnat said.
“We couldn’t get enough numbers ourselves to have a stand-alone junior team,
We’ve got a really good bunch of guys from lots of different backgrounds.
— Troy Wishnat
which is sort of a retraction of where we’ve been previous years.
“But at the same time that was probably during that peak construction period when the gas was booming and there was a lot more people in town.
“Overall I think AFL’s got enough of a following in town to stand alone but it’s always an uphill struggle when it’s a rugby league town.”
As for the club itself, Wishnat said there were a few things “in the pipeline” relating to grant applications for this year to help “try and get a bit more infrastructure around the recreation grounds in town” to help the future of the club.
For club supporters there’s also some fun announcements coming up, with club paraphernalia in the works, to be available when the season kicks off.
“We’ll have club shirts and stubby coolers and all those sorts of things available if anyone wants to come down and support the club by purchasing any of those type of items,” he said.
“The more visible we can be around town, hopefully the more people will get involved.”
The club is also doing well thanks to sponsorship, which Wishnat said meant the club is in the “best position we’ve probably ever been in”.
Overall, he said the focus of the club was on friendliness and he welcomed anyone interested in playing or volunteering to get in contact.
“We always need more community members to help… the volunteers are the ones that make those clubs great.”
The Suns are set to play the Highfields Lions on Saturday, April 21, at the Chinchilla Recreation Grounds from 2.30pm.
TOUGH MATCH: Dalby Swans played Chinchilla Suns last year.
Chinchilla Suns are ready to play.
The Suns played hard in 2017.
FIERCE COMPETITION: Dalby Swans against Chinchilla Suns at the 2017 Travis Mitchell Cup.
The Chinchilla Suns went up against Dalby in the 2017 Travis Mitchell Cup.
Chinchilla Suns playing last year.
Flying high as teams battle for possession.
Dalby Swans playing Chinchilla Suns last year.