The first ever AFL Outer East season is creeping every closer, and as anticipation builds we’ll be taking a closer look at each and every club in our newly formed home.
After a contrasting 2018 season, Belgrave’s Footballers and Netballers will be approaching 2019 in a very similar fashion, under new leadership and with no idea where they’ll stand in this new competition.
2018 was a strong season for Belgrave on the netball court, with three of its four sides making the finals with it’s A Grade outfit missing out on the ultimate glory by just seven goals. With the re-structuring of the competition you could be excused for seeing the Magpies as red hot favourites to take out the Division One crown.
But that’s not the case according to new coach Matthew Weaver, with majority of last seasons A Grade side all moving on for a number of reasons. The girls won’t be moving within the competition however according to Weaver, preferring to play in the Waverley Netball Association.
“We’ve lost the whole A Grade side from last year, but I’ve recruited and we’ll be looking to give some of the B Grade girls are promotion for 2019.”
Weaver found his way into the Magpie’s nest via an advertisement on social media and despite no knowledge of Belgrave’s netball history, found the club a perfect fit.
‘It’s a great facility thats about to be upgraded again, and I’ve got a great bunch of girls to work with and the committee has been so supportive of everything I’ve wanted to do so far.”
So far Weaver’s ideas must be working. The Magpies have had great numbers on the track, and all of the girls will enter the season with plenty of match practice, with the club having played as many as four practice matches already.
The Magpies may also have the upper hand on other sides with their new coach’s intel. Weaver has recently coached at the Hampton Park Redbacks, who were part of the SEFNL up until 2018.
He also has daughter that played in the SEFNL competition.
“I’m expecting good competition from all of our opponents this season, however I wouldn’t be expecting any of them (Pakenham, Doveton and ROC) to be blowing any teams away.”
Like his netball counterpart, Belgrave’s new football coach, Nathan Johns has also got some experience with his new club’s south eastern opponents, having been involved with Pakenham Under 19’s whilst residing in Beaconsfield.
John’s most recent coaching role was at Crib Point where he had his troubles, and due to some off field issues, that left Johns disgruntled, he decided to walk away. However his passion for coaching still remained.
“After I left Crib Point, I had some chats with some important people in my life, including my own coaching mentor and decided that I still wanted to keep coaching,”
“I got wind that Belgrave were looking and the rest is history.”
Johns has outlined his key goals for the club based on what he’s been told and what he can attain himself. In a nutshell, he wants to ensure that his Magpies don’t fall back into the trap of being too good for the second division, and not good enough for the top division.
“I’ve gathered that they were a step above the old division two, and a step below most in division one and I want to change that, whilst playing a distinct brand of football,”
“I know that will take time.”
Johns has worked hard over the pre-season to build his sides defensive solidity, whilst using their leg speed to catch opposition on the break, however he is aware that with the large discrepancy in ground size around the competition his side will have to adapt.
“Our ground is very small, so we will have to stay tight there and then make sure we relish a chance to play on the bigger grounds.”
Johns is over the moon with his sides work ethic on the training track, and is excited by the improving leadership qualities of his group, led by a couple of recruits. The club has also been training alongside Eastern Football League outfit Scoresby, with both clubs looking to learn from each other.
“Brad Raaymakers has been great in regard to his leadership for the young group, whilst Aaron Johns brings plenty of experience and Elliot Avis, who I bought across from Crib Point, has been fantastic.”
Despite all of the overwhelming positives coming out of Belgrave, Johns is not getting carried away. Even though his ultimate goal is take this side to the top of the premier division one day, he is aware it’s all about taking things one step at a time.
“We want an improvement on last year, this season ideally we want to make sure we’ve got more wins then losses,”
“After that, who knows.”
Belgrave will open their 2019 season with a home encounter against Monbulk.