State of Play : State of Play - Issue 1
STATE OF PLAY | ISSUE ONE working in the gaming room and bar while studying at university. “I even got married at the club,” adds Devcic. Their experiences with the club are well-treasured and – according to the men – it was “only a matter of time” before they would join the board, which finally occurred three years ago. Since then their contributions have focused on the finances of the club. They spend time formulating spreadsheets and remodelling the revenue cost structure, so the accounts can be better managed. “The new structure has been well-received by all on the board. I think when the other members know your heart and effort is for the betterment of the club, there’s a mutual respect that grows,” Mandekic explains. And that respect is important, says Fiona Kirwan, president of the Spotswood/ Kingsville RSL who has a background with the Australian Navy. “I have to stress that collaboration is key among board members. And for that to happen, there needs to be mutual respect,” she notes. Kirwan moved to Melbourne from Newcastle two years ago and would drive by the RSL daily, but at first she thought that it was closed. “It looked deserted. It was not until some time later I discovered it was being run by four gentlemen.” She volunteered at an event one day in December 2015 (“It was a clean-up event!”) and met people who also saw the potential this RSL holds in the neighbourhood and for the community. “So we came together and did the due process of creating a board of 16 people in April 2016 and with a new structure we worked to bring it back to life. Because of my military background, I am able to serve at the higher level of the board,” she says, adding that the original four board members are still actively involved with the RSL’s activities and upkeep. Changes since the new board’s inception include a bar renovation, more family-friendly initiatives such as a fortnightly outdoor cinema, dog day Saturdays and events such as birthday parties and more. Being female and in the younger age group, Kirwan believes she brings an energetic perspective to the table and sees no issue with the other members. “I don’t think this is distinctively a male or female role. Yes, there’s a certain stigma attached to being a board member of a club – t hat is, old men holding the top positions. But if this RSL club wants to move forward, then this notion needs to be disbanded and let the next generation in.” CONQUERING THE LEARNING CURVE The initial nervousness that Wengel felt was very familiar to Devcic and Mandekic, who were just as uneasy during their initial weeks as members of the Croatian Club’s board. This was purely due to the responsibilities they had to shoulder as board members. “It’s like starting a new job and you want to be great at it. You need to get your head around how the place runs, meet the people and gauge the personalities and the expectations you have to fulfil,” adds Devcic. But because boards are filled with members who are passionate about their respective clubs and respectful towards one another, this challenge can be overcome quite quickly, he adds. The other challenge these board members face is time management. The younger board members generally have full-time jobs and therefore have to be more conscientious with the commitments they have with their clubs. HAVING YOUNGER PEOPLE ON THE BOARD MEANS WE ALSO GET FRESH PERSPECTIVES AND IDEAS.
State of Play - Issue 2 Vic