Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

New band of Bears are born

Shepparton Football Club and Notre Dame College have merged to form Notre Bears Junior Football Club to play in Shepparton District Junior Football League.

DAMEN FRANCIS December 11, 2013 4:05am

Ethan Phillips, Ethan Batey, Harry Brodie, Will Brodie and Noah Phillips don the Shepparton and Notre Dame College jumpers ahead of the merge between the two clubs.

Two of Shepparton’s most successful footballing institutions have joined forces.

Goulburn Valley Football League club Shepparton — which has won more senior premierships than any other club — and Shepparton District Junior Football League club Notre Dame College have agreed to merge in a move both feel will be beneficial for clubs and players alike.

Notre Bears Junior Football Club is the working title and prototype jumpers have been designed, with both topics to be discussed at an information night at Deakin Reserve tonight.

NDCFC president Roger Matthews, who is part Notre Bears’ working committee, said his club initially approached the three Shepparton-based GVFL clubs — Shepparton, Shepparton United and Shepparton Swans — at which point it realised the possibilities.

‘‘One of the things we couldn’t provide as a school-based club was access to things like trainers, broader coaching expertise (and) senior players, so we approached Shepparton-based clubs to see if there was interest in forming some sort of alliance,’’ Matthews said.

‘‘Out of those initial meetings it became apparent that actually merging with a club at a junior level was an option.

‘‘We went back to the clubs and said we are interested in a merger and if you are interested please put a proposal together.

‘‘(Shepparton’s) was the most compelling and what they came up with basically ticked all the boxes.’’

The newly formed club is looking to field teams in the under-14 boys’, under-16 boys’ and under-18 girls’ SDJFL competitions next season.

Former Carlton and Shepparton footballer Gerard Butts has been appointed coaching director, with a vision of each team training as one under respective coaches Tony Pellegrino (U14), Brayden Pullen (U16), Tim Kelly (U18) and Brittany Tancred and Andrew Westblade (U18 girls) to develop a one-club mentality.

‘‘We’re calling it a merge, but the intricacies of exactly what mechanism it takes we still have to sort some of that detail out,’’ Matthews said.

‘‘Essentially it’s going to be a joined junior club and there will be representation of Notre Dame and of Shepparton in the name of the club and in the colours on the jersey.’’

Shepparton junior president Brendan Bicknell, who himself played and coached at NDCFC prior to his involvement at the Bears, is also on the working committee and said both clubs would benefit from the merge.

‘‘We needed help with our juniors and Notre Dame have a great idea of how things run and we can offer them a pathway to senior footy,’’ Bicknell said.

‘‘It’s a great opportunity for kids at Notre Dame to get a taste of what it’s like to be involved at a GVFL club.’’

NDCFC vice-president Mark Brodie said the move would help preserve the club’s history, unlike other defunct school-based clubs.

Brodie said Notre Dame students were free to play at any club they chose and similarly the new club would be open to players from any school, which has always been the case at the stand-alone club.

The information night starts at 7pm.

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