Last night BUUF got smashed 15-3 by 'Cougar makes my pants fit noice' at Albert Park League. It was looking a lot worse, with Cougar up 8-0 at half within the bad side of 20 minutes. Their team was easily better than ours - only one of them didn't have Nationals experience, while we had three players with one Nationals campaign under their belt, the rest a mix of Mixed Div experience and newbies.
In the first week, we lost to this team on universe point, so there's been a massive change in form over ten weeks. We were missing a few regulars last night, but the key problem was summed up perfectly by Mark...
"We always start out so well, then people stop committing."
And he's right. Every Monday arvo I go through a few dollars worth of text messages trying to scrape together a team to make the trek down the Western. But we've been doing it on a weekly basis for the last three winters for the sake of development, so it's all for the better, right?
Not really. We've never had the same team two weeks in a row, so while we're exposing some new players to a level of play a notch or three above pickup, we've become pretty stagnant as a club on field, a fact not made any better by the fact we're not fronting up to Mixed Nats this year. Last night I counted up how many people we've had pull on a jersey for Ballarat teams (BUUF, The B-Town Massive, Eureka Goldigaz) since 2004.
Ninety players have worn the navy and white over the years, and yet we barely manage to have 9 or 10 from week to week. So where have they all gone? I can't remember the exact numbers but here's an approximate breakdown...
- 20-something are now playing elsewhere
- 4 are overseas (all in Japan, oddly enough)
- About 15 were one-offs (fill ins at league)
- 20-odd could be considered current players
- ...and 24 have gone altogether
Twenty-four players have played more an a couple of games for Ballarat, and are now gone from the sport altogether. A fair few of these players showed some real potential, and I believe would be at Nationals level by now if they stuck with the sport...Rendell, Leah, Steve, Erin just to name a few. They ended up leaving for whatever reasons, but it all boiled down to the fact that ultimate was just too much to commit to.
So it got me thinking on the drive home, we need to have a crack at getting a league going in Ballarat. We're facing a huge exodus of experienced players at the end of the year (Mark, Dave, Sizz, myself and Maria are all graduating and most likely moving out of town) and the club will need to rebuild. Last time we tried to get a league going (2005) it fell by the wayside because the key players lost interest, therefore so did everyone else. Last year was difficult, because hosting Mixed Nats and our WUCC team ate up most of everyone's time, but this year there is nothing on the cards after Mixed Nats (early October) so it's the perfect time to do it.
So where do our teams come from? Obviously we'll have to split up the team we have into smaller teams and get them to recruit from there. Here's what it might look like...
Team 1 - Church Street. Existing team of juniors from the Creswick area. Led by Tarrant.
Team 2 - 2007 rookies. The crew of new players who are regulars at pickup games. Led by Dan.
Team 3 - Team IBM. Myself, Doobie and Sammy work there, all we'd need is to get three workmates each along and there's our team.
Team 4 - "BUUFcoy". Get Sez and Spanka to lead the charge and get our old players back into the fold.
When it's broken down like that, it seems almost too easy. 70% of the players are already around, we just need a structure, timeslot and venue to make it happen. Of course once the league is going then recruiting for us becomes a lot easier. Rather than asking players to come to a "state-level" league or tournament, we are asking them to have a run around the park with friends.
Let's make it happen.
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