Life members kick in

Tari JeffersManjimup-Bridgetown Times
Lower South West Junior Football Association life members Carolyn Cabassi, Maree Hurley, Graeme Liddelow and Peter O'Connell.
Camera IconLower South West Junior Football Association life members Carolyn Cabassi, Maree Hurley, Graeme Liddelow and Peter O'Connell. Credit: Tari Jeffers

Enjoyment, participation and development are the ideals of the Lower South West Junior Football Association and each of the four life members reflect those ideals.

This year the association welcomed its fourth life member, Carolyn Cabassi, and to honour that achievement, all four life members came together at the weekend to celebrate.

The other three life members are Peter O’Connell, Graeme Liddelow and Maree Hurley.

O’Connell, who is associated with Southerners Football Club, joined the association committee in 1992 and became a life member in 2002.

Liddelow, associated with Imperials, joined the association in about 1971 when it was still the Warren Junior Football Association and became a life member in 2005.

It was then 10 years before Maree Hurley was inducted, after she joined the committee in 2000, due to her involvement with Imperials.

Cabassi, associated with Deanmill, was inducted this year and had been on the committee since 2002.

“I came straight on as secretary, Peter told me it was easy,” she said.

“I went to my first ever meeting as a delegate for Deanmill to see what it was about.

“When it came to choosing a secretary they went round and round and round and then Peter suggested me.”

Hurley took the more traditional route of being a delegate for several years before she was selected as the secretary in 2007.

Much like Cabassi’s experience of being thrown in the water to be taught how to swim, Liddelow joined the association as president when he was about 19.

“I went to an AGM and they couldn’t find a president so I did it,” he said.

Liddelow has been president for two different stints, in the 1970s and then again from 1992, with O’Connell as his secretary.

O’Connell had been the secretary for Southerners juniors and seniors before he joined the committee and his time has included secretary and 10 years as president.

“The association, I always thought, is about giving as many kids as possible as many games as possible,” he said.

“There were times when Bridgetown or Boyup Brook could have folded and we did everything in our power to keep them going.

“Let’s say Boyup Brook had six players and they could have folded, if that happened, those six kids couldn’t play footy.”

Historically, O’Connell said that had not always been a popular opinion but in recent years, there has been a growing culture of teams borrowing a player from another team to help fill the required numbers.

Hurley said the new system allowed more kids to play and all they required was a permit for the day to play for the opposing side.

“It’s the tradition of staying separate that coaches and parents struggle with,” she said.

Cabassi said people needed to think about kids who wanted to play football, not necessarily what jumper they were in.

Having grown up with a junior coach that made football fun, Liddelow strived to do the same when he became a coach.

“We should be there not to teach the kids to win, win, win, but be there to teach the kids to enjoy the game,” he said.

Hurley said as junior players learnt to enjoy the game, it then gave them the freedom and drive to develop their skills.

“Some kids won’t develop until they’re 15 years old, so you don’t have to be good at under-9s or under-11s,” she said.

Liddelow’s example of the benefits of nurturing a junior’s enjoyment for football was former Carlton player Mike Fitzpatrick, with whom he played juniors.

“He played for St Joseph’s (Kearnan) for juniors and he came on to the ground as a young kid and he cried,” Liddelow said. “He didn’t want to be there, but then he went on to play AFL.”

All four said, in the future, they wanted to see the association continue and continue to support the ideals of enjoyment, participation and development.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails