It’s my turn to step up with a report this edition and given that we are pretty much at the half way mark of our operating year now (if you include the pre-season period), there’s plenty of data to report on, and lots of good news about FHC’s year to date.

Strategic Plan: We have two and a half years to run on our Strategic Plan which is multi -componented but emphasizes two key objectives – building a sustainable Premier League Club model which is fueled by our own player recruitment, retention and development, and the carrying out of that objective whilst remaining financially stable and strong. On the financial front, the detailed financial planning put in place by last year’s Board has borne great fruit, with our budget being on track or ahead in almost every key financial area. Our bank balance is healthy and our financial commitments continue to be affordable and well managed.

In terms of the building of a sustainable Premier League Club, this is a challenge carried off in Victorian hockey only a few times over the last 50 years. Our hard work has seen many building blocks put in place in recent years, but we’re now in the hands of Travis and Lachie, and their support teams, to complete the job over coming seasons.

Mens and Women’s Sections: The mens and women’s sections are again putting 18 senior teams (9/9) on the field each week, with relevant teams consolidating recent-year promotions, and smart strategy being employed with team performance versus young player development being carefully considered. The Clubs move away from using ‘overseas’ players, and the loss of other experienced players, has generally been used to introduce even more young players into our top teams, and FHC may well be fielding the youngest squads in both the mens and womens competitions.

Junior Section: Again the junior section is putting 250 children out on the park each weekend, with FHC being represented in all ‘A’ grade options, and our gender balance again showing an equal number of boys and girls. The immediate future is looking good for numbers as our Minkey program is flourishing (30 attending each week), our in-house Hook in2 Hockey program (U8’s) competition is strong, and I believe that we have the largest U10 program in Victoria. A key problem facing our Club though is the need for more experienced players / coaches to help develop this talent. Our efforts will be somewhat wasted if we can’t capture the full potential of these children because we don’t provide quality coaching along their full journey.

 Masters Section: We have more Masters sides on the park – 7 in total – than any other club, including a Men’s and Women’s 35A Grade. Having strong teams on the park week by week has been difficult this year but this is also a reality of Masters hockey with the competition run on Monday and Wednesday nights. We’re proud of the 20 plus Masters players who have been selected to play for Victoria at National Championships and those players who achieved selection in an Australian Masters side. However, we are facing a shortage in the 50+ section and we’ll need to do some recruiting in the future as well as promote Masters hockey as a challenging and worthwhile ‘next step’ for those 35 year old players who are looking to enjoy a mid week game of hockey.

Finance: See the summary above. Congrats to all who are contributing to our volunteer-based enterprises – our Canteen and Hockey HQ, and well-done to all members who have magnificently supported our pay-before-you-play m’ship fee initiative. This has been a great winner for the Club.

Grounds and Pavilion: Colin Braithwaite is doing a brilliant job coordinating our facility maintenance and management tasks, and is driving the continuance of members being proud of the appearance of their Club’s facilities. Congratulations to every Club member that contributes to the cleanliness and tidiness of our facilities, and watch out over the next month or so for several substantial capital works improvements about to take place at FHC.

Retail Operations:  With the terrific support of Club members, and under the  outstanding leadership of Mark, Nic, Marj, Lisa, and Bronwyn, our canteen and Hockey HQ continue to provide a magnificent service to members, and also turnover a handy little dividend for the Club. Remember that the canteen dividend each year (generally around $40,000) continues to subsidise our fees, maintaining the FHC fees at around the lowest in Melbourne.

Sponsorship: Rod Johnstone (RJ) guides the Club’s ever-growing s/ship program, whilst Darryl and Nicole lead the way with our innovative Premier League Squad s/ship programs. We have a reasonable port-folio of sponsors in all of these programs, but ambitious sporting clubs need to grow their partner programs. Contact any of the three Directors named above if you can tip them off to a potential new partner or opportunity.

Social: See social calendar details elsewhere in this Banter, but it’s been a great win for the Club to capture Penny Mather as our new Social Director. A vibrant list of events is now in place, and they really deserve your support, so get along and participate in the Club and Penny’s initiatives.