Kolora-Noorat playing-coach Nick Bourke understands wins and losses are determining factors in on-field success and ultimately premierships but the significance of Saturday's season-opener against Panmure extends beyond what happens for those two hours.
After two COVID-19 ravaged years, the Power leader says having the community back on Saturday watching the Warrnambool and District league is inspiring for his group.
"It's massive and growing up in Noorat as a kid it has a huge impact on the community, it creates a buzz around town," he told The Standard.
"Whether you're an under 12 or an older person and watched plenty of footy across the journey, it creates an atmosphere and Panmure are the same being an isolated little town, so to play them is special in many ways and I'm sure there will be a decent sized crowd.
"It's a great way for people to connect, it creates a special place every week - I speak of it all the time, we're lucky to play footy and netball and play in a community like we do. It's more than just the game for us."
While Bourke acknowledged the impact of crowds again on Saturday, he said it was the perfect early test for his group against a Bulldogs side expected to be contenders.
"It's going to be a great game, it's a bit unknown to start the season," he said.
"They're a strong side and were last year - if we got to play finals, they were coming in with good momentum so who knows what would have happened.
"It's a great early test. They're one of the stronger sides in the comp this year I think."
The former Geelong rookie-listed player said like all sides there would be some issues early, such as with injuries and unavailability as teams adjusted to the demands of playing each week again.
"We've got a few injuries which you do get, it'll be a theme after a couple of years with barely any footy, so it's a juggling act but part of footy," he said.
"For us, it gives some blokes a good chance to test themselves and really make a statement which is exciting."
Fresh off a practice match against North Warrnambool a couple of weeks ago, Bourke said there was plenty of confidence in the brand his side was playing ahead of round one against Chris Bant's men.
"I thought the kids stepped up which was great so we've got confidence in that result," he said.
"We had some players missing, they did too which is the theme in pre-season but to play well against a high-quality Hampden league team is exciting.
"We tried a few new things too which was great."
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