Dashing down the wing
Our Community Club
by Damian Clarke
Last Saturday afternoon, I was fortunate enough to spend the afternoon on the balcony (watching our boys take Portarlington to task) enjoying a few froffies with a group of roughly forty “mature age” lads from the Thursday night social football crew.
The social footy crew has been having a kick, mid-week, for the past twelve months, and consists of local blokes, keen to keep their older bodies moving and their quick wits sharp! Some are past players of our great club, and some are new to town and keen to meet new people, and others just keen to blow out the stresses of the daily grind.
It was while I stood on the balcony, listening to the banter amongst new and old friends and enjoying the hospitality of the BHFNC club I pondered what this place means to me and so many other people and families.
Just over 17 years ago my wife and I moved into town and in order to meet people, we made our way to the footy/netball club. We were made feel welcome from the very first moment we walked into the “old” club rooms by then president Bernie McCartney. Sarah and I had known Bernie and his family for some years prior, so the transition into a new club was made easy for us.
I am asked regularly about the club and what it represents; automatically my mind is filled with gratitude when I think about what the club has done for me and others like me.
In the earlier days the club and the countless, incredible volunteers provided not only a sporting club to participate in, but a friendly, welcoming environment for newcomers to Barwon Heads to feel like they belong. Regardless of sporting ability, if you were prepared to have a crack, you were welcome.
The club also gave us the opportunity to meet many amazing and generous people. From the many volunteers, committee people and sponsors, to the lifelong mates we have made. The club provided a community for us.
This year our son started his football career as a Seagull in the under 9s, and our eldest daughter started her netball career in Net Set Go. (Our youngest girl is not too far behind and sure to follow in their footsteps).
I can’t help but feel a huge sense of pride watching our children and our mates’ children now participating in sports we love, but also at a club we love. This club is still providing for me, for my children and my mates’ children.
Many people at the club create and evolve the culture of the place over the years. And while people come and go, the fabric and values at BHFNC remains the same as it did years ago.
The overwhelming feedback I received from the “mature age” lads, enjoying those froffies and club hospitality was phenomenal. And it showed with many kicking on at the club well after the game had finished and then later on down the street! These lads from many different backgrounds were made feel welcome in the BHFNC community.
Good luck to all the footballers and netballers as you march forward towards finals.
The future looks very bright! Go Gulls!