A NEW group has been set up to guide football’s future in the south-west.
The seven-member AFL Western District Region Commission was announced yesterday by the AFL and AFL Victoria Country.
Former Deakin University club president Greg Wood will chair the group, which includes Hampden league life member Tim McNally, Warrnambool City Council recreation and culture manager Russell Lineham and former Koroit player Shane Bell.
Other commissioners are former Victorian Country Football League general manager David Code, the Department of Primary Industries’ Warrnambool-based regional media and communications manager Melanie Curtis and sports chaplain Brad Henderson, a water program manager with the Glenelg Hopkins Catchment Management Authority.
Wood, the head of Deakin’s Warrnambool campus, was selected to chair the group after an extensive selection process.
The group has been set up after the AFL’s 2011 review into country football recommended 13 regional commissions be established to set the strategic direction and planning of football in country areas.
Wood told The Standard yesterday the commission’s establishment was the start of a new era for football in the region.
“This is such a wonderful opportunity for football in the Western District to move forward,” he said.
“We want to enhance football in the region.”
He said the commission would “consult and consult and consult” with clubs, leagues and umpire associations to ensure the game was developing the way local people wanted.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity to make football operate as people in this region want it to move forward,” he said.
“It’s about setting the strategic direction and moving football forward.”
The commission won’t get involved in the administration of leagues and clubs, taking a big-picture view.
Wood said he was priviledged to be given the job.
“I’m a bit humbled at, one, being asked to be on the commission and, two, even more humbled to be asked to be the chair,” he said.
He said the commission had a big task, covering an area including 67 clubs, 230 teams, more than 5700 players and three umpires associations.
It will meet for the first time on Tuesday.
AFL Victoria general manager Grant Williams said the introduction of the Western District commission was a significant move.
“These commissioners will give the concept in the Western District region the very best start,” he said.