Passion breeds success
BUILD a strong culture and environment, and the success will follow.
That is the modus operandi of Greater Springfield Sports president Luke Playfair, and one which has paid immediate dividends for the club's Youth Girls team.
In their inaugural season, the under 15 side will contest the Division 2 grand final tonight following an emphatic 5.11-41 to 1.2-8 defeat of minor premiers Sandgate.
The result - labelled the best performance of their season - was not a surpris- ing one given the GSS girls' impressive recent form.
But if at the start of the season you told Playfair the team would be contesting a grand final less than 12 months after forming, he likely would not have believed you.
"This is the first time we've fielded a youth female team, so that makes (reaching a grand final) an even larger achievement as well,” Playfair said.
"We've nurtured this program as much as we could, and that's been a big key to their success. Build a strong culture and environment, and the success will follow.
"The other clubs have had youth programs for years, so to achieve what we have in the first year is just incredible.”
Female Aussie rules is a boom demographic across the country following the highly successful beginnings of the AFLW competition.
The GSS club noted that trend, and coupled with a distinct lack of women's teams in the Ipswich region, decided to put their plan in motion.
"We knew the girls space was growing massively and wanted to be a part of it, so we sat down as a board and made sure we got the recipe right,” Playfair said.
"We held a come and try day and attracted about seven (players) - now we have just over 20 listed girls.
"Now that we know that recipe, we'll certainly take those learnings into next year. After the season we have time to be proactive - we're aiming for under 13, under 15 and under 17 age groups (for next season).
"We look around and a lot of other clubs have senior men's sides, but no senior women's sides. With a strong youth program, we can then hopefully provide a pathway for the girls to go into senior women's football as well.”
For all the resources being thrown at the team, Playfair said the most important reason for their success was a sense of pride in the jersey, even so early in the process.
"The girls feel a big sense of ownership over the team already, they're laying that pathway and the foundations for the girls who come after them,” Playfair said.
"You see that in everything they do. When we turn up to away games the girls are all in their polo shirts.
"Not only do we want them to perform on the park, but to have a clean culture and represent themselves well as a squad too.”