Ozier Park. The home of the Waterford Junior League. Photo: Noel Browne.
Firstly, Happy New Year to you all and hopefully it won’t be long until football across all grades will be back, but before that I feel compelled to pen an opinion piece prior to tonight’s (Thursday) crunch EGM of the Waterford District and Junior League that will elect a new committee following the shambolics of 2020.
It is great to see that at the time of this going online that 11 names have been put forward for the election to the new committee prior to the EGM, but further room for additions was given by the Munster FA up to last night (Monday), and it’s unclear at this stage whether or not new faces were added.
The one thing that we do know is that six new names have been furnished to the Munster FA with the names of John Foskin, Damien Tiernan and Brendan White from the former committee set to remain in place for the season ahead. Whoever is elected, I wish them well and look forward to working with them not against them.
While it’s not clear at this stage to who’ll take over the reins of secretary and administrator of the league in place of Martin Flavin, I think that the time is nigh that clubs should be thinking about making radical changes to rebrand and redevelop the league once and for all.
The perfect and ideal start to this would be for the clubs to come together and put a financial plan in place in order to pay a full time administrator to look after the day to day running of the league and also to put together a proper fixture list. How you pay them is something that can be trashed out between clubs.
In order for that to happen however it’s paramount to future plans of the league that the new committee that will be elected on Thursday, at the first available opportunity, meet with their counterparts from the Schoolboy League and Women’s League in order to ensure a clean slate on past history between all.
Let’s be honest now. I fully understand that all bodies are voluntarily run, but seriously now is the time that they start working together to ensure that we don’t have the continued fixture nonsense that has been part and parcel of the various leagues for too long.
The day of waiting for a fixture list should be well and truly over and it’s now up to those that are put in charge by the clubs to finally get this aspect of the league right. The planning of fixtures is vital and the league should be looking at every angle to try promote junior football in Waterford again.
There’s no doubting that the real bone of contention this season with the making up of the league was the situation regarding the Youth Leagues, which let’s call a spade a spade here now, was badly handled, and it shouldn’t be a situation of having just two clubs competing for the Youth A division.
A number of clubs in the league have called for the re-introduction of the Under 17 League and that’s certainly something that needs to be looked at in order to bring things in line with the National League, and whether or not this can be extended to an Under 19 League shouldn’t be totally ruled out.
OSCAR TRAYNOR RETURN
Waterford is a city and county with a proud footballing tradition and whilst the “old regime” had their reasonings not to partake in the Oscar Traynor Trophy, this is something that has to be changed. Waterford has a proud record in that competition and we should be entering it with many interested parties crying out for it. That’s both from players and managers that would like to represent Waterford at a National level.
Looking back for a minute on the financial state of the league, it’s believed that the league isn’t in a bad financial state, but there is still ample room for further sponsorship. There are people going to be on the new committee with business and marketing background, and their expertise should be used in putting together financial sponsorship packages for businesses and individuals.
There’s no reasoning whatsoever that the white elephant that is Ozier Park can’t be utilised more considering the amount of money that has been used to floodlight, seating and the upgrading of the facilities, and certainly the new league chiefs should be looking at using the venue more. Whether that be the use of the ground for league fixtures or the playing of tournaments, it’s certainly should be something to be spoken about.
Now is certainly the time for the rebranding of the league, and something that shouldn’t be ruled out in the future is one league running the whole of football in Waterford. This is now 2021 and the Waterford Junior League, a league with such proud tradition and history, needs improvement and needs support.
A NEW VISION
For too long, clubs and players have been giving out about how the league has been run, and that wasn’t of any fault to the committee that was in place as they were doing their best in tying circumstances, but whoever is elected on Thursday, they need to have a vision so the Waterford League can be talked about positively again.
Waterford football lives on history a lot, and the situation that the league currently finds themselves in, gives a real hope for the future. There is a big chance to make the Waterford League big again, a time to resurrect things like the TSB Cup, the Factory League, the Pubs League, and to make our league popular. As already stated I wish whoever is elected to take on the mantle well and continued success to you all.