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From the CEO - November Update

From the CEO - November Update

10 November 2023

With our Senior Men’s and Women’s players returning to training I felt it important to provide you with an update.

As you would be aware 2023 saw the club achieve ultimate success in our Under 18s and Women’s Development League Team, we just fell short in our senior Women’s team and had respectable improvement in our Reserves.

Senior Football Review

We previously communicated to members and fans that the performance of our senior team in 2023 was not up to the high expectations we collectively held. As a result, a Review was undertaken of the Senior football program.

Conducted by Mark Bickley and Tim Ridgway of ISC Consulting over the concluding weeks of the season the review examined all facets of the senior football program providing a series of recommendations which have been accepted by the Board of the South Adelaide Football Club.

The review left no stone unturned.  As the many players, coaches and administrative staff that participated, can attest to, the review process produced many frank and honest discussions.  The recommendations of the report are multifaceted, comprehensive, and indicative of the best practice standards we need to instate at every level of our footy club to give us the best chance of sustained success.  

Each function within our club, from the players to the backroom staff, coaches, administration and Board, will approach next season knowing exactly what is expected of them and the role they will play.  No one role is more important than any other and excellence is our collective pursuit.   

Our members, supporters and stakeholders can expect the following key developments: 

  • A restructuring of the Football Department through the creation of a dedicated Football Executive Committee to drive football performance. Former players Mark Bickley and Dean Brogan have agreed to sit on the new Committee which will be Chaired by the Football Director Andrew Thornton, Director Andrew English, Senior Coach Jarrad Wright, General Manager of Football Brent Reilly and myself.
  • The appointment of an extra resource in the Senior Football program to drive player development and support the Senior Coach. We are pleased to announce Reserves Coach Alex Pigou will have an increased role as Head of Development.
  • The empowerment of the current playing list to achieve their optimal on-field performance by implementing a raft of initiatives to bring out the best in our players and which include skill enhancement, connection and leadership. 
  • Maintaining our drive to fund a significant upgrade of SAFC facilities to raise them to a State League standard for the benefit of all at the Club and provide us with the best opportunity to host an AFL Gather Round match in 2025 or 2026.
  • Continue to build connection with Leagues and Clubs in the Zone to support local Coach and player development.

The establishment of the Football Executive Committee is a key outcome of the Review with the aim of providing leadership, structure and process to areas such as but not limited to recruiting, retention, list management and other important strategic football duties. We are buoyed by the expertise we have available to help drive our on-field performance.

The arrival of Sherrin into the SANFL competition is also providing plenty of enthusiasm. The preferred ball of our national game will now be used in all grades.

Round 1 of the 2024 Hostplus SANFL League season is scheduled to start on Easter (Good Friday March 29), with a bye the following week for Gather Round. It is anticipated that fixtures for 2024 will be available prior to Christmas.

SAFC Senior Women

Our female footballers are also back training in earnest. Their annual kick builders pre pre-season has concluded and the real stuff now starts. Over 60 girls will be on the track with many new faces in the group.

The 14 round season is due to start on March 2.

This year the SANFL will be implementing an entry fee for spectators at all SANFLW matches. Due to the increase in professionalism and costs in all SANFLW programs this was viewed as a means to offset this escalation and increase investment in female football moving forward.

The Club will shortly announce a membership package that provides entry to all home matches at Flinders University Stadium.


I’m pleased to advise that the Club’s project with Cardijn College to fund lighting upgrades is almost complete. The $500k project has delivered four light towers, behind the goals netting, a digital scoreboard and a soon to be completed shelter and storage facility.

The oval has been in use for training since August and in October hosted games for our Junior Girls Development Squads.

South Adelaide is the only SANFL club to have its second oval up and running and we thank Cardijn College, the State Government, SANFL and the AFL for their financial support of this initiative. This is a real positive for our football programs and will assist in fostering a greater link between our Senior men’s and underage teams.

The Club has also been having positive discussion with the State Government regarding the potential for an upgrade to our existing outdated facilities. While the Club did receive $1mil following the last State Election, the escalation in costs since that time have made it challenging to meet the required needs. We remain hopeful that we can acquire funding at a level that makes Flinders University Stadium a facility capable of hosting a future Gather Round game.

And in some exciting news, thanks to the magnificent support of long-time partner REDARC, you will see a new development which will enhance the match day experience for supporters, sponsors, players and the wider community. We look forward to telling you more in February next year.

AFL Reserves

The annual discussion about where the South Australian AFL Teams should play their Reserves teams seems to be a bit more intense this year. While you may remember that South Adelaide did not support their entry into the SANFL competition, we are of the view that this dialogue shouldn’t be had in the media. 

We’ve have met with several AFL Executives in recent years, who have repeatedly said a National Reserves competition wasn’t on the agenda. Clearly Port Adelaide wanted it on there.

But ultimately as a Club and I’m sure you as a SANFL fan would like to know what the plan is. 


You may recall that last year we made a number of changes to our Constitution. As a consequence the AGM for the 2023 year will be held on Monday February 19 at 7pm in the Peter Darley Room.

Another change was to the Director portfolios, which will see all six Club Director positions up for nomination in the New Year. This information will be provided to members in December.


It’s hard to believe it’s getting so close to Christmas and the footy season will be upon us once again.

Thanks for your ongoing support of the Club. If you haven’t joined up yet as a member for next season I hope you can again. Click Here to become a member for 2024. 

We are genuinely committed to improving upon our performances at all levels. Would be great to have you a part of it again.


Yours sincerely,

Neill Sharpe

About the Author:Neill Sharpe

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