Zoom Meeting 6th May 2020 Matt Finnis CEO of the St Kilda Football club


How good was it to see so many members and partners last week? The magic of zoom where we can listen, talk and see from our homes is indeed magical. Who would have thought? There were at least 28 people who joined in to hear Matt Finnis CEO of the St Kilda Football club. It was particularly good to Sarah and Barry both of whom have been most unwell and welcome to Rotarian Merv who as we all know together with Larry together with other members of BMC are fervent St. Kilda supporters. Pres. Geoff welcomed and thanked us for attending and again mentioned what a really good and decent man our last week’s speaker Peter Hitchener is. He further mentioned the meetings that are being held to start planning for us as a club as restrictions start to lift. He is assuming that breakfast will return and has asked Allan to have a meeting to work out how the market will look when we go back. Pres. Geoff continued that we need to look at the strategic plan and above all we need to fit in   and we need to act in accordance with whatever we are told. He also mentioned how much better we are with zoom and thanked Geoff Gartly for organizing us. Pres. Geoff in his St Kilda AFL cap welcomed out Guest speaker Matt Finnis saying he had known Matt for a long time and that the Kingston Council of which he had been Mayor, would support St. Kilda FC and getting the club back to Moorabbin had been a great achievement. Matt Finnis is the CEO of the St. Kilda Football Club and thanked us for being able to join us for the evening zoom meeting. He also thanked Geoff for his kind words and felt it had been serendipity to have met Geoff and thanked the councilors and for the relationship that has been built. The background image as Matt spoke was of the Football ground in February and the crowd watching the AFLW game before the COVID-19 era. He said how it seemed a life-time ago that we were able to sit with families in a picnic style audience.  He continued that he really liked the AFLW matches on Sunday afternoons where the atmosphere was carnival-like and sold out matches. More like a dream. There are 50,000 members, a new coach and then it felt like they were “hit by a wall” when COVID-19 descended upon us. One did not for-see the size and impact this would have. Sport is the second most impacted industry affected. He also   mentioned that thousands are out of work and the big challenge to share and how they are working to see it through. He talked of how the new season had to be stopped for the unforeseeable future and how the finances are affected and how a crisis management needed to be put into place and what to do in the interim. He talked of the magnitude of difficulties of having to stand down 80% of the workforce. At this time there was no “Job Keeper” so when that was put into place it was a God-send. Players were sent home with gym equipment and programs and with advice of making sure the players were to look after themselves and their families.   He managed to access a short-term loan thru liquidity held by the AFL through Marvel Dockland. Matt continued by telling us that he spent time on zoom trying to constantly to communicate with stakeholders, members and players focusing on health and well-being.  Many of the staff got temporary jobs with Australia Post packing parcels and while it was heart-breaking doing work that was not theirs it was warming to see team-work. He continued by saying that at the end of the day, AFL was really the biggest version of the local footy club and everybody is doing it tough. However, where to go from here?  Announcements as to when return to training and games without crowds but not moving ahead of where government sits on these decisions and having to be guided by what government officers say, which explains why it will take a bit longer in order to minimizing risks. The club’s buildings are shut down but the greens are being looked after while the public seem to be using them.  Matt felt that the game will be different and will not be able to bring everyone bac. He also mentioned that the game is owned by the people who are members. The aim is to going back to be an organization the community can be proud of. No-one is more important than others.  He talked of the fact that the compound had to postpone some of the aspirations such as a pool and new buildings.  He is confident that the club will survive and will be a club to compete. He feels that everyone is honest and compassionate and will keep positive and energized. He spoke very highly of AFLW and especially of the coach Peta Searle. Matt finished after answering great questions.  He felt he was lucky to be able to work with great people. Thank you Matt for joining us on zoom and we invite you to come for breakfast when the club is able to return to meeting in person. We enjoyed having you with us.  Merv was invited to talk of his Rotary club of Caulfield which is a tiny club with a large amount of projects, Faye told us she has stopped making face masks and is returning to her embroidery. Helen share her difficulties in homeschooling informing us that we as adults learnt differently as Grade 2 children and today’s children approach from a different angle. Helen also told us that Tim Moran will be our guest speaker next week. Having heard Tin speak before we know he imparts invaluable knowledge regarding youth. Pres. Geoff in closing the meeting thanked Matt and us and that as leaders in the community we can choose what to do. He mentioned how we appreciate the Front-line workers and remember that people are doing it hard. He wished us to Keep Well and to look after ourselves and Keep Safe.  ROTARY CONNECTS THE WORLD

Zilla (Bulletin Reporter)

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