WAAFL pres­i­dent fac­ing fight for role

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - NEWS - Josh Zimmerman

AF­TER 20 years at the helm of the WA Am­a­teur Foot­ball League (WAAFL), John Davies is fac­ing a three-pronged as­sault on his pres­i­dency at to­mor­row’s an­nual gen­eral meet­ing.

The long-time ser­vant to am­a­teur foot­ball in­sists he has the en­ergy, mo­ti­va­tion and ex­per­tise to con­tinue his reign but must con­vince Perth’s 68 clubs he re­mains the man for the job ahead of chal­lengers Sam Birm­ing­ham, Mil­ton San­ders and Robert Steel.

Mr Birm­ing­ham, pres­i­dent of West Coast Am­a­teur Foot­ball Club, said he had nom­i­nated be­cause he felt the com­pe­ti­tion was ready for cul­tural change and a new per­spec­tive.

“The main is­sues are around com­pe­ti­tion in­tegrity – there are some un­der­ly­ing con­cerns around player pay­ment and on-field be­hav­iour,” he said.

“There is a per­cep­tion that player pay­ment is a real prob­lem for the com­pe­ti­tion and there have been no con­vic­tions for a cou­ple of years now so clubs feel like the prob­lem is get­ting worse.

“With re­gards on-field be- haviour, I think it is im­por­tant to send a very clear mes­sage to the com­pe­ti­tion that if you do some­thing silly we will come down like a ton of bricks. That em­pow­ers the clubs to de­liver that mes­sage to their play­ers.”

Mr San­ders has been a mem­ber of the WAAFL board since 1987, in­clud­ing eight years as vice-pres­i­dent.

Now semi-re­tired, he said he had more time to ded­i­cate to the league and would bring a fo­cus on in­clu­sion and strength­en­ing the ju­nior com­pe­ti­tion.

“The colts com­pe­ti­tion is im­por­tant to me be­cause in a for­mer life I was pres­i­dent of the North Sub­ur­ban Ju­nior Foot­ball League,” he said.

“The WAFL clubs can’t cater for all the kids com­ing out of 16s and 17s and the am­a­teurs have the fa­cil­i­ties and back­ground in com­mu­nity foot­ball to set up a bet­ter com­pe­ti­tion for those that are get­ting left be­hind.

“I’d also like to see an ex­pan­sion of the in­te­grated foot­ball com­pe­ti­tion (for peo­ple liv­ing with dis­abil­i­ties), which is run by just a hand­ful of clubs.”

Mr Davies ac­knowl­edged the need to strengthen the colts com­pe­ti­tion while clean­ing up on-field be­hav­iour and stamp­ing out player pay­ments but also flagged on­go­ing fi­nan­cial se­cu­rity as a con­cern.

“We have been lucky that for the last 95 years we have al­ways been sup­ported by the WA Foot­ball Com­mis­sion but the re­cent sta­dium man­age­ment an­nounce­ment will inevitably have an im­pact on us,” he said.

“We al­ready had a cut in our grants last year and there is now also doubt over where the WAAFL of­fices will be.

“I be­lieve I have the ex­per­tise, and the con­tacts over 20 years in this role, to nav­i­gate that.”

Mr Steel, pres­i­dent of Kingsway Foot­ball Club, did not re­turn re­quests for com­ment be­fore dead­line.

WAAFL pres­i­dent John Davies.

Can­di­date: Mil­ton San­ders.

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