WAAFL president facing fight for role

AFTER 20 years at the helm of the WA Amateur Football League (WAAFL), John Davies is facing a three-pronged assault on his presidency at Wednesday’s annual general meeting.

The long-time servant to amateur football insists he has the energy, motivation and expertise to continue his reign but must convince Perth’s 68 clubs he remains the man for the job ahead of challengers Sam Birmingham, Milton Sanders and Robert Steel.

Mr Birmingham, president of West Coast Amateur Football Club, said he had nominated because he felt the competition was ready for cultural change and a new perspective.

“The main issues are around competition integrity – there are some underlying concerns around player payment and on-field behaviour,” he said.

“There is a perception that player payment is a real problem for the competition and there have been no convictions for a couple of years now so clubs feel like the problem is getting worse.

“With regards on-field behaviour, I think it is important to send a very clear message to the competition that if you do something silly we will come down like a ton of bricks. That empowers the clubs to deliver that message to their players.”

Mr Sanders has been a member of the WAAFL board since 1987, including eight years as vice-president.

Now semi-retired, he said he had more time to dedicate to the league and would bring a focus on inclusion and strengthening the junior competition.

“The colts competition is important to me because in a former life I was president of the North Suburban Junior Football League,” he said.

“The WAFL clubs can’t cater for all the kids coming out of 16s and 17s and the amateurs have the facilities and background in community football to set up a better competition for those that are getting left behind.

“I’d also like to see an expansion of the integrated football competition (for people living with disabilities), which is run by just a handful of clubs.”

Mr Davies acknowledged the need to strengthen the colts competition while cleaning up on-field behaviour and stamping out player payments but also flagged ongoing financial security as a concern.

“We have been lucky that for the last 95 years we have always been supported by the WA Football Commission but the recent stadium management announcement will inevitably have an impact on us,” he said.

“We already had a cut in our grants last year and there is now also doubt over where the WAAFL offices will be.

“I believe I have the expertise, and the contacts over 20 years in this role, to navigate that.”

Mr Steel, president of Kingsway Football Club, did not return requests for comment before deadline.