Forget player payments, Fassifern building new club spirit
AS some clubs blame the cut in match payments for fewer numbers this season, the Fassifern Bombers are surging ahead with added enthusiasm.
Preparing for next weekend's opening round of 2021 Rugby League Ipswich matches, Fassifern club president Paul Roderick was upbeat.
He said his country club was more focused on team bonding and providing entertaining game day programs than getting bogged down in less financial benefits for footballers.
"We are looking to see what else we can do for players, not just match payments,'' Roderick said.
"We done a training camp at the start of the year and a few different things where the boys went down to the coast.
"You can do plenty of other things without having match payments.''
Fassifern is one of four major clubs set to field teams in the A-Grade, Reserve Grade and under-19 competitions this season.
While conceding Fassifern had been "up and down'' securing under-19 players, Roderick was encouraged by strong support across the club from juniors into the senior ranks.
"The numbers are good with a really strong local contingent,'' he said.
"As always, there's friends of friends who come from different places.
"We got some pretty good messages with guys through work situations and things like that so that brings some different people into the community.''
That is despite Fassifern sitting out last year's Volunteers Cup competition involving Ipswich and Toowoomba competition teams.
"A lot of them enjoyed a year off doing some things they wouldn't probably do on weekends, myself included,'' the club president said.
"But everyone is hungry to get back into playing some football. We haven't really lost any numbers because of the COVID.
"There's a good vibe around the place.''
Well-travelled former player Cam Wallace is guiding this year's Bombers A-Grade side. The school principal is also the junior club president.
"Cam is doing a really good job,'' Roderick said.
The former Fassifern teammates share a vision for the tradition-rich country club.
"Cam brings a good culture and that's the one thing him and I are working on,'' Roderick said.
"It's bringing things back to a real understanding of what the Bombers have been and what it is, and what it can be in the future.''
That includes hosting regular junior and senior games on Saturdays at the club's Hayes Oval home base to strengthen club spirit.
"We've put in for Anzac Day against Norths and we'll try to run a few full junior days right through the 17s, 19s, Reserve and A,'' he said.
"We've drifted away from it at the times but it's going to be a real focus.
"A lot of people in the seniors all come through the juniors so we're all one I guess.
"That's going to be real big for us.''
Roderick also appreciated the ongoing support of long-time major sponsor Frank Klan - a "trucking magnate'' who runs a company based at Peak Crossing.
Klan is a former A-Grade player at the club.
Roderick, a diary farmer, has been club president for three years after various committee roles during his playing days since 1996.
The former forward played in three Fassifern A-Grade grand finals - in 1997 (against Swifts), 2001 (against Brothers) and 2003 (against Goodna). They included linking with Wallace and later coach Matt Ralph.
After finishing runners-up in those three deciders, the Bombers beat Brothers in the 2011 and 2012 grand finals before another title defeating Norths in 2018.
"We always add something over the years,'' he said of the Fassifern club supporting the Ipswich competition.
That includes people working their farms and playing footy "adding a bit of flavour''.
"We had a good base there. We just had to attract a few more,'' he said.
"There's probably a dozen players from outside the region that have made the difference.''
Roderick hopes having a new Jets team will boost the A-Grade competition - "if it's done right''.
"We don't want to cannibalise existing clubs,'' Roderick said.
"I think it's about bringing new players and emerging players into the comp.
"If that's followed through, I reckon it will be an asset for the comp.
"I'd hate to think that it would cannibalise foundation clubs like Norths and West End and the like.
"I'd like to see it bring other players in. That would be great.''
Roderick said the Bombers had secured its group of new players from outside their traditional area to support the core of loyal Fassifern footballers.