I would like to congratulate the players and coaches of the South West Football League who once again have taken out the landmark country week football division 1 championship over the weekend of 10 to 12 July. The team only lost one game in the round-robin lead-up competition which was to the Great Northern Football League by 24 points. However, the same two teams met in the grand final and the South West Football League avenged their earlier loss to run out winner 9-16 to 8-8. As a result of their success South West Football League players made a fifth of the Landmark Country-West All-Stars team. This includes South West Football League coach Crandon Keddy, who was named coach for a fourth consecutive year. In addition, co-captain Don McGinlay, midfielders Jessie Gribble and Michael Bataglia and halfback Simon Parry were named in the playing squad. Don McGinlay from Busselton Football Club was also named Player of the Carnival for his consistency and hard work. Jesse Gribble of the Bunbury club was awarded the South West’s best and fairest grand finalist player award. The South West’s Aidan Parker and Marc Re were their major goal scorers in the final, with three majors each. Aidan Parker was a powerhouse in front of the goals throughout the tournament, kicking five goals in game 1 and two goals in game 2 on the opening day of the competition.
The first day saw the South West Football League notch up victories over the Upper Great Southern and the Lower South West teams. The second day saw South West overcome the Avon Football Association before succumbing to the Great Northern crew by 24 points.
Luckily, the day 3 grand final saw a reversal of this and a hard-fought victory for the South West team. The South West Football League also performed well in the colts competition, with the colts making it through to the grand final—a close-fought game, but going down to the Peel Football League in that event. It was a great result, however, for young South West players of the future.
I would like to congratulate all of the players, coaches, administrators, families and supporters of the South West Football League on their success last weekend. Country football is alive and well. It faces a number of challenges but it is alive and well in the south-west, and the current generation can hold their heads high. As someone with a very long and loyal association with both AFL and country football, I am especially pleased to see this success both on and off the field. As I know, in regional areas often the general health—the economic health and wellbeing, even—of a small community can be measured by the presence of a viable, vibrant local football club. There are a lot of clubs in the south-west and those in small communities often face ongoing challenges to maintain themselves—in places like Donnybrook and Harvey, where the locals work overtime to keep offering sporting opportunities and community interaction. This is often the hub of that small local community, built around a football club and its interactions and, often, the great role models these young people come in contact with as part of their football club.
On the weekend I went to a round robin junior carnival. I have to commend a little group from Dunsborough—a little group of under-14s who were probably over a year younger than those they were competing against all day. They were little tackers and what I loved about them was that they did not win a game, but they never, ever dropped their heads. They never lost their composure. They were just great young people learning and enjoying. They were a great bunch of kids. I planned to talk to the junior club and say just how proud I was to see young boys who were being beaten, often quite badly—they struggled; I think they got one goal in the competition up until the time I left. That is all they had scored in their games, but those little fellows were running out there. They were doing their best and they were a real credit to themselves and their club.
I also want to commend a coach and a runner in the under-16 age group from the Harvey Brunswick Leschenault Football Club who, when we heard some less-than-appropriate comments from the sidelines, turned around and said, ‘Listen mate, it is not appropriate to either abuse the umpire or to make the comments you are making.’ To stand up at that point and say ‘this is not okay’ sent a very clear message not just to the individual but to all those young people who were sitting on the sidelines waiting to go onto the ground.
I commend all of those involved in this great game that is Australian football. It is a fantastic game in this country.