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2020 Secretary’s Report

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After performing many roles in our club including Registrar, Website/Social Media, Yearbook Editor, Coach, Trainer, Manager, Assistant Secretary, Treasurer and Assistant to the Secretary this was my first “official” year as Club Secretary. Despite my long history with the club and rugby league nothing was able to prepare me or anyone in our club for what was coming with a major global pandemic that would wreak havoc on junior rugby league and change our basic way of lives. What a year to be Secretary.

I’m pleased to report that our club was still able to walk away from this season with a record-breaking profit that sets the Club up for the future. This came despite making some new club investments, the loss of income coming from the restricted season that prevented extra canteen sales and some sponsors unable to make contributions as they needed to keep their businesses afloat. A great result achieved by all involved.

Our club did achieve many highlights before, after and even during the Covid-19 lockdown. We were able to put together two Development Applications (DA’s) for upgraded amenities at Ruse Park. We were successful in a $20,000 grant from our Club Patron Tania Mihailuk MP for upgrades to the canteen and dressing rooms at Ruse Park. I believe this is only the beginning as we improve our two home grounds.

Ruse Park became a disaster zone for the Club in 2019 and I had to take immediate action to ensure our Club was never caught out again. Thanks to successful lobbying we achieved a major council upgrade to the surface at Ruse. It was much needed after the damage to the ground in 2019. The surface was ready for the first trial in March and after we returned from the lockdown Ruse held up very well.

We returned to Padstow Park in 2020 as a full operating venue with field markings, goal posts, canteen and training facilities available to our members. I’m personally very thankful to our coaches and teams who embraced the extra space at Padstow and the venue is now an important part of the Bulls furniture. The club played home games at Padstow in 2010-11 and the venue wasted away to the point we lost all access after the 2018 season. I made it my first task as Secretary to get the venue back and to have two fully functioning venues as it’s very important to the Club’s future expansion.

For both the Ruse Park upgrade and the return to Padstow Park our club is indebted to the Mayor of Canterbury-Bankstown Kahl Asfour and recently promoted Deputy Mayor & Club Patron Rachelle Harika.

During the previous off-season our club made a donation of $3,000 to the Taree Lions Club that included members contributions of $2682.30 with the club contributing the remainder to make it $3,000. On top of this we donated four carloads of non-perishable items. It was an eye-opening experience for the people who made the trip north to Taree and the Manning Valley to see the devastation of the bushfires last year.

Sponsorship was difficult this year prior to Covid-19 and became even more difficult during the pandemic. We were very fortunate our major sponsors Bankstown RSL Club committed to their sponsorship in full for the 2020 season and we’re very pleased to have the RSL back for 2021 in an increased capacity. The Bulls and RSL have formed a strong relationship and I would like to say a big thanks to Scott Dickson, Kate Hodge, Andrew Bailey and all the board and staff at Bankstown RSL Club for their support of the Bulls.

A highlight this year was the Bulls Plays of the Week video feature that was put together by Bankstown RSL Club, Andrew Bailey, Erin Molan and Anthony Maroon. We thank all the teams that embraced the Plays of the Week and I know it was a great promotional success for the Bulls and the RSL.

I would like to thank all our other sponsors and contributors including Cedar Beverages, City Steel Fixing, Gozleme King Bankstown, GK Civil, Mortimer Apparel, Advanced Body Sculpting and Marjan Butchery. We were able to get the latter two partners on board after the pandemic in a big boost for our club.

Against all odds this year we were able to have a functional presentation day and hold our team photos. Thanks to GS Imaging for doing the photos, Abel Trophies (Jeff Whelan) for doing all the trophies at an outstanding price and Rabih Chamma for opening up his facility free of charge to host both events.

The formation of the Western Sydney Rugby League Academy was born out of the off-field success we’ve had as a Club in 2020 and our ability to come through Covid-19 as the most proactive Club. The Academy is an off-season programme put together for our players and coaches to stay actively involved with Rugby League and improve their skills collectively.

We welcome Jason Amos to the Club as our Coaching Director, A/Grade Coach and leader of the Academy. Jason has a strong background in Rugby League and was previously involved with the Melbourne Storm as Development Coach where he’s personally worked with League icons such as Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk, Billy Slater and Craig Bellamy. This knowledge shapes our Club well into the future.

Now to the personal acknowledgements and there’s many to get through.

Firstly, thanks to our President Ali Mehanna, Senior Vice President Stan Hetaraka and Canteen Manager Rabab Raad who worked tirelessly this year to keep the club going. We needed people to step up to the plate with all the challenges that 2020 presented itself from the bushfires, relocating pre-season training to Padstow Park and dealing with all we had to go through with the Covid-19 lockdown. I wish you three all the success for the 2021 season.

Our club is so blessed to have Anthony Samuel in the Executive position of Assistant Secretary and David Tarabay in the very important non-Executive role as Junior Vice President. Both are outstanding individuals and proved to be tremendous rocks of support to myself personally when I needed moral support dealing with the pressures of coming through the other side of Covid-19 and the stresses involved. Our club wouldn’t have achieved 5% of what we did in 2020 without Anthony and David. Thank you very much.

The canteen proved to be the week-to-week foundation either side of Covid-19 and I would like to thank all people involved including Rabab Raad, Anthony Samuel, Sandra Chahine, Jeseka Harmouch, Pania Hetaraka, Michelle Baldwin and Amanda Harmouch.

Thanks to all our ground and BBQ helpers throughout the year – Chady Salamah, David Tarabay, Zahi El Zein, Ian ‘Rhino’ Collis, Karim Moussalli, Isaac & Wally Al Ruby, Chris Baldwin and many more that gave up their time to help assist the club and make the running of game days smoother.

Thanks to Lawrence Karam who helped around the ground and was there when I needed assistance or advice. He filled the Secretary role at a critical moment in our clubs history and left the club in good shape.

A special mention to Elias Nassif who played for one team, trained two teams and always responded to my requests to help around the club. A very deserving winner of my Secretary’s Appreciation Award. Elias has come so far forward in the last 5 years and is the best club person we have at the Bulls.

Thanks to Hussein Dia for all his legal advice, keeping me on track when the going got tough and for writing the blueprint that enabled not just our club but the junior league to emerge strong after the lockdown.

Football isn’t always about winning or losing but making the most with what you have around you and stepping up to the plate when needed. Ian ‘Rhino’ Collis returned after time away from the club and we handed him the most daunting challenge. Rhino’s passion and love for the game shone through and he managed to get his team against all odds to be competitive most weeks. Isaac & Wally Al Ruby joined the Bulls for the first time in 2020 and they quickly embraced our culture. They didn’t have the numbers for a team in Round 1 and by the end of the season had defeated the team that made the grand final and defeated another side that cost them a spot. If the season went another two weeks they would have been there. Ray Alaeddine (U5/B) and Khalil Ismail (U6) stepped up to be coaches after Round 1. Marlon Saisoa’a ensured the second U9 side off the ground. Chady Salamah at very short notice took on the no.1 team in the Under 13’s and only need another 1-2 weeks where that team would have won the premiership.

I can’t thank Stan Hetaraka and Matilda Faker enough for the Girls U16 team and ensuring they got to play a game of football every week. The U16 Girls team above all other teams showed what it means to represent the Bankstown Bulls, never gave up and forever winners in my eyes.

Two teams that improved rapidly during the season were our Under 11 and Under 12 Division 1 teams. Rabih Chamma and his support crew had his side within a whisker of making the U11 semi-finals. They proved they can match it with the best in Division 1. I also thank Rabih for making Isaac and Wally feeling such a part of the club. It was always going to be a tough ask for the U12 this season but led by coach Zahi El Zein they showed great improvement every week. This team has such a strong and positive culture.

We did have one premiership winning side this year. The Under 14’s after a shaky loss in Round 1 blitzed the remainder of the competition including the Grand Final winning 26-10. George Najjar, Victor Barakat and their staff have built a fantastic culture over many years and recruited very smartly in the off season. If teams are looking for a blueprint in how to recruit and retain players speak to George.

This year we fielded 20 teams and 295 players compared to last year 21 teams and 309 players in 2019. We did extremely well to keep our numbers very similar to the season before.

What about our Under 7/W side that fielded 6 Girls in a squad of 9. Our club has been very committed since 2018 to increasing the number of Girls playing for the club and illustrated how far we have come as a Club.

Thanks to all our coaches, managers and trainers in 2020. It was a difficult season with so many disruptions completely out of the Bulls and Canterbury’s control. We needed to put all our officials through Covid-19 training just to get on the field as part of the extra NSWRL requirements placed onto our club. Our team officials made so many sacrifices just to see our teams get onto the field. It was our Club and our People that had to kick and drag the entire junior league in NSW back into action after the Covid-19 lockdown.

John Grealy moved from St Christopher’s to take over as the CBDJRL Competition Manager. What was Chrissy’s loss is certainly the Junior League’s gain! John was fair, firm and very supportive. Any time Ali or myself needed to discuss matters, policies or rules he was always there for us. John gave honesty and never anything else in between. We led the push for Wednesday Night Football to provide extra football content and John made it happen. We pushed for many ideas – most times he supported us. Thanks Greals.

In recent times John Khoury has stepped up to be Chairman of the Bulldogs. John has a great passion for Junior League and has supported the Bulls on many occasions at presentation and gala events. John’s presence on Presentation Day after he became Bulldogs Chairman shows he’s never forgotten that he comes from our Junior League system. JK has made a great start as Chairman and I hope it continues.

With Peter V’Landys taking charge of the NRL he’s been able to put his stamp across the game at all levels at including at Community and NSWRL levels. The changes he’s making will have long-term benefits.

As the longest and most difficult season came to a conclusion in early November, I made the tough decision to retire from the Executive, Registration and Compliance roles. The retirement decision has been on my mind for 7 months and when coming to the decision I considered the following factors:

  • The club is in its best financial and structural shape it has ever been in with many new systems now in place. I didn’t see myself being there in 2022 and I believe now with the Club at its strongest ever point to usher in a changing of the guard more so with so many people willing to volunteer.
  • Everything with Covid-19 was really exhausting and after not having a break from the game since the 2008 off-season it was now time to step back, freshen up and take on a new challenge.
  • Recently I lost my Uncle suddenly, I have another Uncle with an incurable disease and my Grandmother is into her 90’s. More than ever, I need to support my Mum and give back to my family that loves me so much but have missed out on me being around due to my football commitments.

I’m very thankful and blessed to have served in very senior capacities at the Bulls with Registrations, Executive, Treasurer and Secretary. It has been an honour to be a part of the Club that represents the heart of the Bankstown. I will always be a part of the Bulls in some capacity, it’s a club that has given me so much and I hope to find new ways to make a positive contribution to the Club albeit in a much lesser capacity.

In moving on from the Executive, Registration and Compliance roles I would like to thank four former Executives who have all been outstanding for our Club and given me so much help and guidance.

Firstly, to Anthony Rizk who was Secretary of the Club in 2009-12 and prior to that was Treasurer & Registrar. Beauty introduced me to the Bulls and we worked a lot together in promotions and websites before I took on major roles within the club. Ruse Park played host to the 2009-11 Mini League Grand Finals where I worked in official capacities as MC & Ground Official and Anthony was a wonderful host.

Romiz Barakat from day one always made me feel welcome at the Club and part of the inner circle. He kept on encouraging me and I’m still thankful to this day for that. His contribution to the club has been immense.

Michael Rodrigues always made me feel a part of the team he coached and invited me to the many events he held for his team. Michael twice saved the club financially and we owe a great debt to him. Michael was President for two years and steered us through a tough time where we’re now reaping the benefits.

Most all I would like to thank Danny Safetly. My time working alongside Danny as a 1-2 combination still remains as my most rewarding and effective partnership. Several of the structures Danny and me brought to the Club when he took over as Secretary in late 2012 are still in place today. I can’t thank Danny, Jamal and the Safetly family enough for all they did for me at the Bulls. Danny was better than great for our club.

In closing off a rather long report, I want to say thanks to all the 295 players who took the field in 2020 and to all the families who respected the Covid-19 guidelines that needed to be implemented in accordance for a game of football to be played – much appreciated. Every player and every team that took the field for the Bulls this year ensured our club came out of Covid-19 much stronger.

Congratulations to all our award winners in 2020:
Bankstown RSL Service Award                                    Victor Barakat
Senior Club Person of the Year                                   Brad Whigham
Lindsay Roach Junior Club Person of the Year       Gabriella Oliveira
Secretary’s Appreciation Award                                 Elias Nassif
Senior Player of the Year                                               Tylah Slate (Under 14)
Ray Farah Junior Player of the Year                           Julius Brown (Under 12)
Bankstown RSL Female Player of the Year              Ve’a Tavita (Under 7)
Ryan Matterson Super 15 Player of the Year         Adam Noureddine (Super 15)
Marcelo Montoya Encouragement Award             Jaylen Tuitama (Under 17)
Tom Tasker Encouragement Award                          Elijah Taulaga (Under 13)
Senior Coach of the Year                                               Ian Collis (Super 15)
Junior Coach of the Year                                                Isaac Al Ruby (Under 11)
Manager of the Year                                                       Matilda Faker (Under 16 Girls)
Team of the Year                                                              Under 14

5 Years Playing Service:                 Amir Chahine, Jarrah Dennis-Reid, Junaid Sayadi, Danny Tarabay, Julius Brown, Nour Noureddine, Zaine Warwar, Rabieh El Mohamed, Shane O’Callaghan, Assaad Dib, Adam Derbas, Masse Masae, Adam Noureddine.

Our club now has a strong all-round Committee in place where we have people dedicated to junior & senior teams, coaching development, canteen operations, sponsorship, fundraising, legal and much more.

Hussein Dia succeeds me as Club Secretary. In the last 6 years my friendship and association with Huss has always been a very close one. Huss was manager of the team I coached for 3 years, he succeeded me as Coach and he’s been my closest confidant during my last 3 years on the Executive. He knows the inner workings of the club and the game. Our club is good hands with Huss in the position of Secretary.

Thanks once again to every member for their support of the Bankstown Bulls in 2020.

Matthew O’Neill
2020 Secretary, Bankstown Bulls JRLFC Inc

To receive a copy of the Financial Report please email – you must either be a Life Member, 2020 Team Official or Parent/Legal Guardian of 2020 Financially Registered Player to receive a copy.

Bankstown Bulls Junior Rugby League Football Club Incorporated.