As opposition spokesman for sport, I had the pleasure of representing the Liberal Party at last night’s South Australian National Football League AGM. I wish to use my time today to discuss how well the SANFL is doing and to pay tribute to some of the legends of South Australian football who received SANFL life membership last night.
The SANFL is a strong and proud football league, by far the strongest state league in the land, and it is in good shape for 2008 as it celebrates the 150th anniversary of our great game of Australian football.
The league is in excellent financial order, with total revenue increasing by 1.4 per cent on last year’s. The league also achieved budget for the 23rd consecutive year. All credit to Leigh Whicker and his management team and Rod Payze and his commissioners for the excellent financial shape the league is in.
The SANFL continues to promote itself as a family friendly, affordable experience and it is clearly working.
Attendance at league matches continues to grow, with 2007 attendances increasing by a healthy 4.2 per cent over 2006. The 2007 finals attendance of more than 64,500 was an increase of 18.6 per cent on 2006, and the highest attendance since 2002.
Game development is strong, with the SANFL establishing a dedicated game development department, which has allowed the appointment of six additional development officers and given 12 young people a traineeship with the league. The SANFL, in conjunction with the AFL, run the Auskick program and 13,300 children participated in the program in 2007—a fantastic result at a time when we need to encourage our youngsters to maintain an active, healthy lifestyle to combat the scourge of the current obesity epidemic.
As well as assisting our youngsters, the SANFL is helping to attract more women to play the game. The number of women now participating in South Australia is well over 300, representing a 150 per cent increase over four years. The strength of the indigenous programs delivered in the APY lands is another big tick for the SANFL and demonstrates how effectively it is growing the game.
I turn now to the recipients of SANFL life membership.
First, Mr Greg Bolton, President of the Port Adelaide Power Football Club is a deserved recipient. Even an Adelaide supporter like me cannot help but acknowledge the excellent work Greg has done as a league director and Port Adelaide Football Club board member over many years. Additionally, Greg has taken on an extremely important role in horse racing as a member of the new controlling authority for racing, as a board member of Business SA and the SA Motorsport Board, showing that he is a man with a huge work ethic who contributes his time not only to footy but also to many other worthwhile causes.
Mr David Shipway, affectionately known as ‘Shippy’ to most people, is another great South Australian and has rightly earned life membership of the SANFL. David, a South Australian football commissioner, is doing first-class work to grow country and amateur league football through his work as the affiliated league’s council chair and as SANFL community facility fund committee member. My colleague, the Hon. Rob Lucas, will also vouch for the fact that David has worked incredibly hard for his beloved West Adelaide Football Club as a board member for many years.
Another exceptional South Australian, Mr Peter Woite, also received life membership last night and his work on the SANFL Drug and Disciplinary Committee and the SANFL Tribunal was duly recognised. In his playing days Peter won the SANFL’s highest individual honour, the Magarey Medal. Peter won the Magarey in 1975 and played over 200 games for the Port Adelaide Magpies and Glenelg Football Club. Members may also be aware that Peter heads the South Australia Police Major Crime Squad and has had a stellar career with SAPOL. Add to this his voluntary motivational and educational talks to community groups and it is clear to see that Peter has excelled in his life outside football also.
I pass on the Liberal Party’s congratulations to Mark Clayton of the Port Adelaide Football Club and to Scott Bamford of the North Adelaide Football Club who both received player life memberships for reaching more than 200 games.
I publicly acknowledge the Deputy Chairman, John Halbert, MBE, who is retiring from the SANFL Commission, having had 53 years continuous involvement in our great game. It is an absolutely incredible achievement by an absolute gentleman. I take the opportunity to wish John and his very supportive wife and family all the best for the future.
I encourage all honourable members to get out to a SANFL game this season and witness some local footy—a competition that is truly in great shape and one of which we should all be very proud.