By Ben Pollard
The St Peters JFC has been awarded Gold Level Accreditation under the AFL Quality Club program, the only SMJFL club to currently hold the honour.
The Quality Club program is designed to recognise and reward community football clubs for high standards of club administration.
St Peters now shares the program’s highest standing with just two other Victorian clubs – Noble Park JFC (South East Juniors) and Avondale Heights FC (Essendon District Football League).
Former St Peters president Mark Dance, one of the key drivers behind the achievement, said Gold Level Accreditation meant a lot to the club.
“It gives us a certain standing within the community,” he said.
“It gives us confidence that, as a club, we’re moving in the right direction… and we have a plan in place for the future of the club.”
One important part of that plan is to engage the St Peters community.
The club runs a ladies’ lunch every year for the women of the St Peters JFC and the greater community, with funds raised at the event donated to charity.
In recent times, St Peters has assisted charitable causes related to breast and ovarian cancer prevention, the Reach Foundation and other youth mental health organisations.
The club also runs educational programs for its juniors and their parents, and will conduct a session on proper internet and social media usage in May this year.
St Peters operations manager Kara Malley, another key driver behind the accreditation achievement, said the community was the club’s biggest focus.
“We wanted St Peters recognised not just for football and the Gold Accreditation means just that to us,” she said.
Ms Malley said St Peters had also helped lead the way for the participation of girls in junior community football. In 2012, the club produced the Under 14 Girls premiership team, as well as the SMJFL’s Female Coach of the Year, Hayley Lyons.
“We kind of like to lead the way wherever we can, just instil good values in our committee… and in the way we choose our junior leaders,” Ms Malley said.
Ms Malley praised the St Peters community, including current club president and 2012 SMJFL Volunteer of the Year Jay Wardlaw, for contributing to the success of the club’s various initiatives.
“It’s just the members of our club that drive these things,” she said.
“They’re all the things we want St Peters to be known for, not just our win-loss ratio.”
SMJFL General Manager Jake McCauley congratulated St Peters on their Gold Level Accreditation and said it was an achievement not only for the club, but for the League.
“St Peters have now set the standard for other SMJFL Clubs to aspire to,” he said.
“As a league, we’ve been delighted to see a number of clubs already achieve Bronze or Silver Accreditation and who are now aiming to emulate St Peters’ achievement by achieving Gold Accreditation as well.”