Meet The Locals: Jamie Mackenzie
Jamie Mackenzie moved to Anglesea as a park ranger 30 years ago.
He joined Anglesea Football and Netball Club with his then young family. He became coach, administrator and was elected President in 2020.
There must be something in the water in Anglesea. It has produced netball stars and football legends, a coterie of loyal sponsors like Robyn Dodd Real Estate, a community that goes all out to help its young people, and a sports club that supports a healthy culture, diversity and women’s sports.
We talk to Jamie about club culture, sports stars, women’s football, and the tight-knit community that eased the pain of lockdown.
Hi Jamie, I’ve heard that the Anglesea club has nurtured a few sports stars over the years?
It’s a bit of a mixed bag. Brownlow medalist Paddy Dangerfield, Tegan Philip (who played for the Vixens and also represented Australia), the Gowan twins (Chris and James) who became Hall of Fame in SA, Luka Hay who was drafted into the women’s AFL. And, as you know, your cousin Craig “Jacko” Leeman is a bit of a legend around town. He holds the record for the most games played – over 600 – for Anglesea.
Is there something in the Anglesea water?
It’s the environment. A well-supported family club. Kids want to be here.
Are you a sportsperson? What was your game?
I love my sport, but my body isn’t quite so capable anymore! I played football in Geelong from juniors all the way through. Triathlons and marathons and cricket, and now I surf.
How did you get involved with the club?
Through my son and daughter playing football and netball in the 1990s. Initially, I did some ‘Auskick’ coaching for the under-eights. I stayed with the juniors as an assistant coach and ended up coaching under 14s and 17s for about 15 years until 2019. I’ve been on club committees and involved in football operations for 17 years, and President since 2020.
What changes have you seen in that time?
I suppose the biggest change I have seen is that there’s a lot more diversity in the clubs compared to my days playing sports. We have a women’s football team for the first time ever.
What do you think women players have brought to the club?
There’s been a real cultural shift. For us, the inclusion of the women’s football team has been a game-changer. Women bring a different attitude and approach to the sport and the club. They also get things done which has been a real bonus for the club’s committee.
Does this help in terms of respect for both men and women?
Women have earned a lot of respect in the way they approach football. Having more women means we don’t have so much of a blokey culture, which is a really good thing. Women are calling out bad behaviour.
So, where does netball fit into this?
The women’s football team has brought the link between netball and football. Having a lot more women in the club makes it a much better place. It’s a safe place for them. It’s been an opportunity for women, who wouldn’t have been involved in sport, to play and be part of the club whether that’s netball or football.
What about the young players, how do you encourage them?
We have empowered some of our younger players to take more ownership of the social side of things. The functions are 50/50 organised and attended by men and women. It has a totally different feel to club functions of the past. Our Trivia night was probably one of the best nights of the club. Seeing young people hanging out together was one of the highlights.
Just researching the market?
Are you fielding any mixed team i.e. boys in netball or girls in football?
Girls can play up to under 14s in the boys’ team at the junior level. Our goal is to get a girls’ under 14 football team. We’ll put a bit of work into that in the next few years.
What are the biggest challenges facing community sports teams?
There are a lot of policies and procedures involved with clubs. They are quite a reasonably sized business concern these days. So, getting volunteers with the expertise needed is hard.
What sort of policies are you referring to?
Things like occupational health and safety, and policies that put a stop to any harassment. It’s putting all those things in place.
Clubs are run by volunteers, so how do you manage all this?
It’s a big task. We’re thinking of putting a part-time person in place, but we have to find the money for that. Looking for grants, goodwill and in kind to get things done. It’s never ending. We want people to enjoy their involvement, and for it not to be a chore. It’s a case of many hands making light work.
What sort of things do people do?
They usually don’t want to join a committee meeting, but they are happy to do a job. We have a mum who is a lawyer. She helped us with our governance work. People are generous with their time.
How important is sponsorship to you?
It’s critical. I can’t overemphasise it. Without sponsors like Robyn Dodd Real Estate and the Leeman family, which has had a long involvement in the club, we wouldn’t be here.
How have the lockdowns affected the club?
This year has been challenging and frustrating with lockdown stops and starts. But looking back, I can see how everyone stepped up. We had to do things differently. We became slick at adjusting to quick transitions. Covid and the lockdowns highlighted the importance of community support and connection. Sometimes we take that for granted
And what about the kids, how are they coping?
I remember their first night of training after the first lockdown ended. The kids were so excited being with their mates again. It was worth it just to see the reaction and the excitement of the kids.
What do you love about the Surf Coast?
I love living here and surfing with my mates. We have a group of four that meet most mornings for the past 20 plus years. We go look for a wave and then go for a coffee. It’s a bit more the other way around these days. But we’re still surfing!
Thanks for the chat, Jamie, and good luck with the Anglesea Football and Netball Club.