Key appointment bolsters club support in Gippsland

Club Development Lead - Gippsland, Nicole Bertuna (middle), speaking with Fish Creek club volunteers Megan Vuillermin and Sharon Wright

As part of AFL Victoria’s commitment to continuing to bolster support and resources for community football clubs, Nicole Bertuna has been appointed to the role of Club Development Lead – Gippsland.

As one of several Club Development Leads based across the state, Nicole will be focused on providing direct support to clubs in the Gippsland region, helping to set them up for success.

These roles, created in 2023, provide an on-the-ground, visible presence working with club committees, assisting with specific issues affecting clubs and helping to drive the growth and prosperity of the grassroots game.

Nicole brings significant experience to the role, having previously worked with ACHPER Victoria and the St Kilda Football Club as part of their community engagement team, as well as seven years as a club volunteer in community football.

She is excited to work with clubs and volunteers in the region to strengthen their foundations and further their impact in the community.

“I am really enthusiastic and committed to working with the 135 clubs in Gippsland as the Club Development Lead, drawing from my professional experience at the St Kilda Football Club and my work as a volunteer for my daughters’ football team over the past seven years,” she said.

“Community football plays a significant role in bringing people together in country areas, serving as the backbone of many local towns. The volunteers who dedicate their time and effort to running these clubs are the heart of the community, and I am looking forward to being able to support them in any way possible.

“One focus for myself is around the growth and development of female football. With three teenage daughters, I am personally invested in encouraging more girls to participate in the support. Female representation in football is crucial for the overall development and inclusivity of the game.”

Head of AFL Victoria, Greg Madigan, said that Nicole’s addition to the AFL Victoria team is another important step in the resourcing of grassroots footy in the state.

“AFL Victoria recognised a need to provide country football clubs with greater support, which resulted in the creation of the Club Development Lead roles,” Madigan said.

“Investing in resources across the state to be on-the-ground experts in their regions who can talk directly to local clubs, understand and develop the type of support clubs require, is a really important addition to what AFL Victoria offers.

“We're thrilled to welcome Nicole to the AFL Victoria team, based out of Morwell. Her experience and knowledge of community football and the local area will be a great asset to clubs in the Gippsland region.”

In addition to the appointment of Club Development Leads, some of the other ways local football and clubs have been and can be supported:

  • In 2023, 251 Victorian football and netball clubs shared in more than $600,000 for their efforts in campaigning to eliminate road trauma in their communities as part of the TAC Club Rewards program
  • 24 Victorian-based country clubs were successful applicants of the 2023 WorkSafe Club Safety Fund
  • As well as getting rid of affiliation fees for community clubs in Victoria, AFL Victoria has continued to partner with the Victorian Government on the annual ‘Country Football and Netball’ funding program, which in 2023-24 sees grants of up to $250,000 available to deliver infrastructure projects as part of a $2.5 million total commitment
  • The Telstra Footy Country Fund, which will provide community footy clubs with $8m over the next four years - $2m per year.
  • Toyota’s ‘Good for Footy’ program continues to support local community clubs with more than $11m raised for grassroots clubs since its inception in 2008, including more than $1m raised in 2023