Editor Jayne has a chat with Craig Mitchell, President of the Port Douglas Junior Crocs AFL team, to see what their prospects for the 2020 season are.
I’m quite sure it’s an understatement Craig, but sorry about the start to your Season!
Tell us how have you been managing team morale amidst the uncertainty?
To be honest it has been difficult to adapt to communication away from each other, so not so great!
We use social media to promote training videos for kids to practise at home to keep them active and fit.
We share content from Outside the Locker Room to raise awareness of, and to nurture our Junior members’ mental health.
Unfortunately, our vital fundraising to support the Club has hit an awful standstill, with no raffles at the Central Hotel or the Tin Shed Port Douglas.
How’s your talent through the teams this year?
There sure is some talent! I won’t individualise, but we do have talented players who have an opportunity to excel if they desire. The last couple of years, we have had some kids that have come across from other sports. As long as we help them develop AFL skills, they have a great chance of transitioning to representative teams and being great players for years to come.
Do you expect that the Junior Crocs will have the opportunity to play at some stage this year?
I’m unsure, with the AFL Cairns and Queensland staff not due to return until May 31st, I’d only be speculating. The optimist in me, and the lover of the game, hopes so. When the time comes, we will survey our 2020 members. If the majority want to get out on the field, we will get ourselves set to play. If the majority want to wait until 2021, that is what we will do.
How might the Season look?
Short and sharp and nothing like what we are used to. It will take a mountain of work from our Committee and the League to create a safe scenario to get our kids on the park. More so, we will need more volunteers than we’ve ever had, for sanitary tasks on game days and training nights. In any case, it won’t be easy.
What is the most satisfying aspect of your role as Club President?
Good question, it can be challenging at times. I attribute my leadership style to my background in Local Government. I may at times, be a bit more bureaucratic than the average person. I do like to have systems and processes in place. This essentially comes down to good governance. When systems and processes are in place, decision-making is more manageable and consistent for the Committee. The social aspect and the sense of belonging in the community is really very satisfying to me.
How do you decompress in the off-season Craig?
Another good question! I probably don’t, as soon as the season ends, I am in constant communication with the League, planning for the next Season. We also try to have our Coaches organised for the next Season before Christmas so they can start working on plans for their teams. I am a person who likes to keep mentally and physically active, and I do love walking the dog with Nerissa although I think we may have broken him!
He’s starting to hold us up in his old age. Last year, our family took a big break down at Lennox Head which is always a hit with the boys.
Tell us about your women’s/ youth girls program?
This has been a side project of mine, and we are making in-roads. Getting more girls actively involved in the Club creates a more inclusive environment. Last year, we saw a distinct change in the social environment with kids staying around to watch each other play. Girls typically offer to help out with volunteer tasks which helps to instil a good culture. In 2018 the Club had two girls registered, and this year before the season started we had 20.
I coach the Under 15 Girls side, and it is a very satisfying role helping to develop skills and a love for the game that will see them play for years to come. Last year we merged with North Cairns, and the girls had a great year making Finals with four of our girls making the Representative side. This year we looked like having a stand-alone team by the start of the Season.
We are concentrating on promoting and getting girls participating at a young age. The girls teams will grow and evolve from there. Next year I think we will be in a position where we will field an Under 13 and 15 Girls side. Under 18s are probably a couple of years away.
Are there any other special programs you are running at the Junior Crocs this year?
Port Douglas Junior Crocs value the players, families and community’s support in providing a positive experience for our kids by offering a safe and inclusive avenue to play sport. The Club respects and acknowledges that we are in a position as a Committee and volunteers to be positive role models. They guide and mentor our Junior Crocs as they develop into young adults.
In 2020 have 2021, we have partnered with Outside the Locker Room (OTLR) to introduce a development program for our players. OTLR focuses on the provision of education and support about daily challenges. We have locked in a program that will run over two years aimed at our 12-18-year-olds. We had our first session in early March, which focused on Mental Health. Through observation and feedback, this was a successful start to our relationship with OTLR. Once things improve, we will be reconvening with OTLR and debriefing with the team on the effects of COVID-19.
By the way, how lovely is your new fence!
It must be much better for player safety, I guess?
A significant improvement and well done to AFL Cairns,
The Port Douglas Crocs AFL Club, Douglas Shire Council and Warren Entsch MP who were all involved in making it happen.
Any messages for the kids?
Stay safe and keep in contact with each other. Check out our Facebook page we have plenty of skills sessions that you might enjoy.
Thank you so much for your time, Craig. Best wishes for the next time the kids out on the field in the centre-square!
Port Douglas Junior Crocs AFL Team
email@example.com or 0476 313 016
📷 / Rick Moyer