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Kilmore Football Netball Club president Paul Maher to step down at season’s end

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By Colin MacGillivray

Kilmore Football Netball Club is looking for someone to guide it into a post-COVID future after president Paul Maher announced he would step down at the end of 2022 after six years in the role.

Maher, who also served one year as vice-president before taking the reins, said it was time for some ‘fresh blood’ on the club’s committee.

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With Kilmore in a strong position both on and off-field, as well as a change in personal circumstances, Maher said he felt the time was right to step down from his role as president.

“It’s time to step down and hand over to someone with some fresh ideas and plans,” he said.

“I’d like to do a form of handover during the remainder of the season so there can be a smooth transition and the prospective president can learn the ropes on the job so to speak.

“Rather than looking around at the end of the year and saying ‘who wants to do it?’ we can get some planning in place now.”

Maher said he was proud of his tenure as president, with Kilmore’s 2019 win in the Northern Football Netball League’s Club of the Year award a highlight.

“It’s been a very rewarding experience for me. It’s been a source of pride seeing how the club has grown and the success we’ve achieved in recent years,” he said.

“The club is in a very strong position at the moment. We’ve got all three football teams entrenched in the top four, all with a realistic chance of winning a flag, and the netball has never been stronger. We’re strong financially as well.”

Maher said he had made the development and transition of players from Kilmore Junior Football Club a focus during his time as president.

“Historically we lost talented local players to clubs in neighbouring leagues,” he said.

“We’ve built a great relationship with George Zaharakis, the junior president, and the junior football club in general.

“We’ve started to see the junior players stay and go on to play senior football at Kilmore. We’ve also had the added benefit of seeing a number of players return to the club who were previous juniors to help get the club in the position it’s in today.

“Rather than going out and buying highly-priced recruits from elsewhere, we’ve nurtured our own talent and brought them through, which has been great to see.”

Maher said the COVID-19 pandemic had been one of the biggest challenges of his presidency, and said retaining and recruiting volunteers would be a priority for the incoming president.

“COVID was and continues to be a major issue,” he said.

“We obviously lost the entire season in 2020, but a hell of a lot of planning went into place prior to that season being called off.

“In 2021 we had a shortened season and again that was extremely difficult because we needed to comply with government rules and regulations.

“One of the biggest challenges now is getting volunteers to assist. Our committee hasn’t changed much over the last two years.

“It has become more demanding with more requirements from the league and AFL Victoria in, so we have to ensure all our coaches are properly qualified, our medical staff are properly qualified, we have workers in the canteen and bar, there are umpire escorts and … people who are willing to step up and umpire games.”

Maher said he was excited to see what his successor brought to the club.

“Who knows? Maybe it’s time for the club to look at appointing the first female president in its history. Down the road at Broadford [Football Netball Club] you’ve got Bonnie Cavanagh doing a great job, so maybe that’s something Kilmore can consider as well,” he said.

“I’m not planning to walk away from the club. I’ll be nominating for the committee for the 2023 season and I’ll be around and willing to help assist the new president in any way I can.”

Maher thanked all of the committee members and volunteers who served the club during his presidency.

“I haven’t done this by myself; it’s been a team effort and a lot of hard work has gone into it,” he said.

“There are a lot of people behind the scenes who don’t get the recognition that I would like to thank for the effort they put into building the club into what it is today.”

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