THE EDFL would like to announce the appointment of Craig Armstead as its new Chief Executive Officer.
Armstead arrives at Windy Hill with a wealth of knowledge and experience from across numerous sports and clubs, including the Geelong Football Club, Melbourne Tigers, National Basketball League, Baseball Victoria and Greyhounds Racing Victoria.
He is also a former junior player with EDFL Club, Hadfield.
Armstead, who officially commences at Windy Hill on Monday February 5, hopes to apply his vast commercial and corporate experience to his new role.
EDFL Chairman Brett Scott formally welcomed the new CEO on behalf of the EDFL Board of Management.
“We are proud to welcome our first appointed CEO, Craig Armstead to the EDFL,” Scott said.
“Craig was the preferred candidate from a strong list of applicants. The EDFL has an exciting future and in conjunction with our clubs and major partners we look forward with great optimism.”
Armstead recently sat down with essendondfl.com.au to talk about his appointment.
Firstly, welcome to the EDFL! Tell us about what has led you to accept this role…
Thank you for the welcome and I’m delighted to be here. Accepting this role for me is a combination of my personal and professional background. I’ve worked in corporate roles, initially in finance and marketing roles, but for the last 10 years I’ve worked in sport. I’ve worked at an AFL club (Geelong), the National Basketball League (NBL) and the racing industry (Greyhounds Racing Victoria), so this opportunity came along and I felt like it was the right next step for me, and given I’ve had a history, knowledge and passion for the EDFL, it was just a fantastic opportunity to pull all that together. The opportunity to lead the EDFL organisation was just too good to refuse.
What are some of the notable things you been involved with in your sporting background?
I played all my junior football at Hadfield Football Club and my son played his junior footy at Maribyrnong Park. I’ve had an affiliation with the EDFL for a long time. For a number of years I’ve followed it and every weekend I try to go and watch games, but outside of that, I’ve played and been involved in lots of other footy leagues, including the VAFA and the Ovens & Murray League, so I’ve had a pretty broad experience in footy. I worked with the Geelong Football Club for many years as well. I feel like I understand the EDFL but with all that experience across other leagues and levels, hopefully it’ll all be beneficial in my role here with the EDFL. The other sport I’ve been heavily involved with is basketball. I played plenty of basketball as a child and my kids both played representative basketball at the Melbourne Tigers. I was president of the Melbourne Tigers’ junior female club and I’ve worked within the NBL as well, so I’ve got a real passion and understanding for basketball as well. For the last three years, I’ve also been on the board for Baseball Victoria. The thing I’ve really taken out of all of that is the importance of volunteers and the importance of clubs’ players and volunteers that make it all happen at community level. I really appreciate those people giving their time for nothing, as I have done so myself, being involved in the industry. I also did a couple of seasons as an umpire, so I’ve got a really good understanding and affinity with the umpiring department and what it’s all about.
Given your history with the EDFL, what are your impressions of what the League has to offer?
I’ve followed the league for quite a while and I’ve been really impressed in recent years of the growth and the profile. When I talk to people around different EDFL clubs, they speak really highly of the league. Even people outside the EDFL have a really high opinion of the league, so when I applied for this role, I already had high expectations and that was part of the reason I applied for it. I thought it’d be a good organisation to look at joining. I’ve met with members of the Board a few times and had a chance to come through the office and have a look around here at Windy Hill and everything’s really impressive, so that made it an easy decision to accept the role.
Have you had any thoughts on the type of impact you’d like to have here?
I think the league’s in good shape and growing, so I’d like to continue to do that. My background in sport is really about commercial growth and boosting participation, so working with clubs and working with members is the focus I’ll have. I’d like to think I can help to continue the league’s growth, and that’s from a commercial sense in bringing more revenue into the league and it’s growing in terms of participation. I’ve got a real understanding and passion for female participation in sport and elite pathways. If you look at AFLW and what’s happened with females participating in football, it’s a great opportunity. I’ve just got a real passion of clubs and I’m looking forward to getting involved and helping them, as well as working with councils and other stakeholders.
Finally, is there anything in particular that you’re really looking forward to when you officially take the chair on February 5th?
There are a range of things I’m looking forward to, just helping the league grow and getting an understanding of it. I think my initial focus will really be talking to people, because I understand the league and the clubs and the mechanics of how it all works, but I’m really looking forward to getting to know the Board and sitting down with the staff here and understanding more about them. Clearly by the time I start in February we’ll be gearing up for the season, so preparations for Season 2018 will be a real focus for me in making sure that’s all up and going. I’m also looking forward to getting to know all the other stakeholders, the clubs, the sponsors, AFL Victoria, councils, media partners and all the various other stakeholders involved. It’ll take time to work through that but initially it will be the Board, staff and clubs and getting ready for 2018. I’m just really excited for Good Friday (2018 Season Opener) and getting the first games going and getting out there and seeing games, because in the end, that’s what it’s all about.