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Rupo Ready For The Challenge

By Jordan Zoch

FOOTY is back at ‘the tank’ in 2021, with Rupertswood Football Netball Club hoping to make a lasting impression on their first season in the EDFL.

Making the transition from the RDFNL in the long offseason of last year, Rupertswood have become the 35th club aligned with the EDFL, furthering the league’s reach out into Melbourne’s outer north-west.

Wanting to hit the ground running, Rupertswood coaxed former rival coach Arron Bray out of retirement to lead the boys into the new season, believing that he stumbled by the opportunity “accidently.”

“Rupertswood have always come across as a pretty professional club when I coached against them in the Riddell league. I thought it was a pretty good step for me,” Bray said.

After tasting senior premiership success in 2019, Rupertswood is hoping to cement itself amongst the more established teams of Strathmore Community Bank Division 1.

While they have lost some of their premiership players, Rupertswood has been able to develop some “pretty good kids” to fill the void the departures left.

“I think we probably lost six to eight of those (premiership) players but we’ve still got a pretty solid core there of experienced boys who decided to stay with the club,” Bray said.

“Our experience is there but we’ve got some pretty good kids that have come through as well.”

When quizzed about expectations for the team’s first season in the EDFL, Bray stopped short of setting the bar too high.

“We want to play finals,” he said.

“We are a pretty proud club at Rupertswood. My job this year is to also get games into the kids, if they’re going to be a part of the footy club for the next five years playing EDFL then they have to be exposed to that standard of footy as soon as they can.”

Club president Brad Pietromonaco also remained realistic of the expectations and challenges Rupertswood would be facing in their first season of EDFL footy.

“The number one thing for 2021 is to stay up in Division 1, find out what the standards are like, keep up that consistency for two to three years on and off the field,” Pietromonaco said.

Moving over to the EDFL was a five-year process for Rupertswood, commencing after the appointment Pietromonaco as president.

“It was more for the future of sustainability, we were losing too many juniors and senior players to EDFL sides due to the quality of football, and then the standard of the RDFL and the longevity of the RDFL, we didn’t think it was a good fit going forward.” 

Aside from the senior team, Rupertswood are also fielding eight junior teams spread across all age groups, with the hope to further grow their junior teams into the future.

“Two teams in Under 10s, 12s, 14s and 16s so eight teams, we want to expand again with the juniors into the EDFL,” Pietromonaco said.

With the initial aim at “consolidating” both the senior and junior groups, Rupertswood also has its eyes set on potentially building and promoting netball throughout the EDFL.

“We used to be a very big netball team, so we wouldn’t mind working with the EDFL to maybe make netball bigger and better,” Pietromonaco said.

Rupertswood’s first senior test of the season comes at home to Airport West this Saturday at Salesian College.

Bagging the four points would seal a perfect start to life in the EDFL.

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