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Season 2018 shapes as an exciting journey for the South Metro Junior Football League (SMJFL) and it’s Member Clubs.

Helping lead that journey are a number of new staff and board members, heralded by new Chair Lewis Bearman who takes charge from the outgoing Peter Ryan.

Lewis has had an involvement in Australian Rules Football for over 30 years. He is a Life Member of the Carlton Football Club having spent over 20 years involved there in a football support role working closely with a number of past coaches including Robert Walls and David Parkin. He has also been involved with junior football for over 10 years with his son Aaron playing over 100 games for East Malvern.

In his time at East Malvern, Lewis spent three years as a team manager, three years as a coach and three years as President. Through these positions Lewis has gained a broad understanding of the challenges that volunteers, parents, players and junior football clubs face in fielding teams in a junior football competition. Lewis is passionate about the growth of girl’s football having been a strong supporter of the Youth Girls team at East Malvern during his Presidency. He is a life member of the EMJFC recognising his contribution to the club.

Lewis has also had a long career in financial services, specialising in Investment Management and Superannuation.

SMJFL Media caught up with the Chair ahead of the new season.

SMJFL: Describe the challenge and opportunity of taking over the Chair position.

Lewis Bearman: I am fortunate that outgoing Chair Peter Ryan has left the SMJFL in such an excellent state both operationally and financially that the challenge will be to keep up his good work.

In addition, my challenge will be to get to know the Club volunteers and Executives, understand their challenges and look for opportunities to assist.

There are enormous opportunities for a league like ours. The growth in participation, not only for girls football after the huge success of 2017, but also in boys football and umpire participation as well. Opportunities to work with all clubs and local councils to improve facilities and the experience for participants, to continue our partners program to get organisations involved in supporting the SMJFL financially and identify other ways we can mutually benefit and to to work with all member clubs to improve the support we can offer them and all their volunteers that make our league what it is. We are in an environment where legislation and government requirements continue to place an increasing administrative burden on these volunteers and so the league is working on ways to be able to offer more assistance.

SMJFL: What are you looking forward to most in 2018?

LB: As always I am looking to the start of the season where our more than 10,500 players can enjoy their involvement in what I believe is the greatest participant sport we have to offer in Australia.

I am also looking forward to working with all our partners, including major sponsor Monash University, football partners the St Kilda Football Club through the Next Generation Academy program and the Melbourne Football Club through the #DreamBigger campaign supporting girls football, as well our six local government councils.

SMJFL: What are some of the things you’ve identified as key focuses of the board during your tenure?

LB: Some of the key focuses for the Board I see are as follows:

· To ensure that the sound financial platform and management of the league continues so that we can continue to meet the needs of all of the member clubs now and into the future.
· At the last AGM the clubs bestowed on the Board great responsibility in considering growth in the league through the admission of new clubs. This will be a focus for the Board to manage this responsibility.
· To continue to work effectively with clubs and councils in the management of and access to facilities. The completion of the facilities audit initiative will be a major platform to assist with this.
· To ensure we work with and support the SMJFL executive. We are very fortunate to have such a fantastic and committed team in place to work with all of our clubs their Presidents and volunteers.