At a recent football conference one of the speakers asked the question: “Why does your club exist?”. He then went on to ask different individuals around the room to explain why their particular club existed, some of the answer’s included to give the youth in their area a pathway to play football at the highest level, another answered to win premierships and give kids a chance to play footy, help get kids off the street and so on.
In my opinion there is no easy answer because a footy club is much more than somewhere to just play footy and all football clubs no matter where they are based share this strong cultural connection. Since it’s inception in 1944 the Hobart Football Club has provided an enjoyable and successful sporting and social environment within the Hobart city and inner suburban areas with a commitment to strong family and community values. These values which embrace a strong work ethic, sense of respect, fair play and equal opportunity have contributed to the Club’s ongoing survival and success.
When you reach my age and reflect on what the club means to you, you realise that a great many of your friends came about through your time at the football club. In my case some were in my wedding party, others are godparents to my children and many more are still very close friends after more than 45 years and I am still making new friends.
My children grew up with the Club being a part of their life,they helped in the canteen on game days and at social functions and now their children help out because they feel that connection with the Club. A parent can bring their child along to games knowing they are in a safe environment with many of the Club footy family keeping an eye on the child as they kick a football or just muck around,
I have been given the chance to see young people come into the club and watch them grow and have families of their own, you are proud of their achievements because to you they are part of your extended family. The club has helped some of us get a job, and pulled us into line when we have started to take the wrong path; it gives us praise and encouragement and offers genuine sympathy in times of personal sadness.
Many of my happiest moments have happened at the Club I have had the chance to associate and have a beer with many of the Club’s well known characters and legends after a game and at social functions and Club reunions. The Club has given young men the chance to play football and you watch them learn and develop not just as footballers but more importantly as people as well. You feel their disappointments and celebrate their joy at their achievements.Some go on to play AFL, others represent their state and play in premierships, while more importantly players of all levels of ability are given a chance to have a game of footy and play with their mates.
Some go on to do well in the business word while others have successful careers through contacts made through the Club.The overriding comment from all these people is that the Hobart Football Club remains their Football Club no matter where they may have moved on to.
While the Club is steeped in a history of on field success it not just about footballers. Many more people join the club as members, volunteers, and supporters and enjoy the camaraderie of being part of something good. People of all walks of life come through the doors and are treated on an equal basis. For instance a young boy with down syndrome came to the Club many years ago, he embraced the Football Club and the Football Club embraced him, he is now a life member through his many years as a volunteer and he can count among his many friends some of Australia’s football legends.
Many people on the outside underestimate the power of a football club in the community and will probably never understand it until the Club doesn’t exist. A former champion of our Club summed it all up recently when he said “Whenever I come here it just feels like returning home”
“Why does my club exist?” I am not sure I can answer that question in one simple sentence but one thing I do know is that without it myself and many others would be a lot poorer for not having the chance of being part of the experience that the Hobart Football Club has not only given us but still continues to give others.
Russell Young – President