Bulldogs plan to change mindset
TAMARA Levao is determined to change the public perception of the West End Bulldogs.
The new president, elected at this month's AGM, will lead the club's first all-female core committee group and plans to use this outlook to bring cultural change to West End.
When asked what motivated her to lead the senior club after two years as junior secretary, Levao said it was an SMS message printed in the QT this season.
"People's attitude towards West End has been fairly negative for the last couple of years," Levao said.
"I read a SMS in the paper that compared coming to West End to play was like going to the Bronx. That's not something any club wants to be described as."
Levao is joined on the committee by secretary Marilyn Levao and treasurer Linda Halyday and the trio believe the female dominated committee will bring a fresh perspective to the 98-year-old club.
"Women are doers," Levao said.
"Men will talk about things a lot but I think we can put things into action a bit more quickly.
"We're introducing a new structure that will bring together the senior and junior clubs and the old boys to agree on the best direction for the club. We have to change the culture of the club.
"We want to make the club more accessible to everyone."
Things are already changing off field with a new club cafe open four nights a week to attract families to Daniels Park.
Levao said she is keen to maintain West End's commitment to Saturday night games, believing it is the best way to integrate the junior and senior club.
"We run a whole day of football on Saturdays," she said.
"From the juniors at 9am to 7pm when A-grade run on the field, there is football all day long.
"It encourages the juniors and their families to stick around and support the seniors and the kids see the path to the open grades."
But if the club is to change, Levao must also find a way to turn around fortune on the field.
The Bulldogs had a horror year in 2012, finishing winless and copping multiple hidings.
"Right now it's not about winning premierships, we just want to see this club competitive on the field," she said.
"We have a very young club, especially in A-grade.
"All the coaches are willing to put in the time to develop these boys and hopefully we can find a few experienced heads to come in and help guide them on the park.
"The ultimate goal is to win the A-grade premiership in our centenary year. What could be better than that?"
With the Bulldogs centenary only 14 months away one thing is clear. If Levao and her female deputies are going to change the Bulldogs' fortunes, they have no time to waste.