Participation numbers in junior and women's football are on the rise at North Geelong Football Netball Club, a massive turnaround after significant support from local property developer Bisinella Developments.
Bisinella has continued to provide financial sponsorship to several clubs and organisations in the greater Geelong region, with NGFNC just one of many non-for-profit organisations it champions in grassroots community sport.
These clubs rely heavily on volunteers to continue to operate and support from the likes of Bisinella to maintain and upgrade its facilities.
At NGFNC last year, funding from Bisinella helped the club resurrect its junior football program after a seven-year hiatus, with about 80 children signing up this season.
This year marks the sixth year being a major sponsor at NGFNC, its support not only helping the junior football program but also providing new apparel for other players in other leagues, technology for coaches and major infrastructure.
Treasurer and junior football coordinator Megan Watts said sponsorship from such a renowned business in the region was huge for any local club.
"For such a well-known and proud business to want to provide sponsorship support to your club says a lot," she said.
"Sponsorship from Bisinella has allowed us to really focus on the rebuild of our junior program and continue with the growth of our women's division as well.
"Our club was without juniors for almost a decade... now we have been able to work on recruitment, purchase the required equipment and ensure we have the right tools and facilities to be able to continue to develop these divisions."
The Geelong District Football and Netball League is at its halfway mark and Megan said the club was looking to build on improvements made last season on the field.
"Although our senior men’s team did not make finals last year, our women’s football team were able to make it to a semi-final.
"It was such an exciting time for the girls to be able to get that far."
The development at NGFNC from supporters such as Bisinella was evident in the increase in participation during the past 12 months.
"Our women’s team currently has over 30 players," Megan said.
"Our junior section has seen a 30 per cent increase in numbers from 2022, with a significant increase in junior girls’ registrations spread across all age groups and including our Auskick program."
Megan believed more women were being enticed to play football due to the camaraderie being involved in clubs such as NGFNC creates.
"Local clubs create a safe, welcoming and fun environment and a perfect place for women in the region to come together and meet new people," she said.
"For those who are new to the area or have moved from the metro suburbs, it can be challenge to go out and meet new faces.
Having a local sporting club close by can always assist with making you feel welcome in the community.”
"We have families at the club who will stay back after training and have a meal and mingle with other families and members."
Bisinella's support of the junior program has seen more than 120 children registered in 2023, from Auskick to under-12s.
"We have noticed a significant increase since last year," Megan said.
"We are only two years into our junior rebuild but it seems evident that families are looking for options.
"With the population growth in Geelong, especially the northern suburbs, there needs to be alternatives available, and we plan on continuing to grow.
"As the years progress, we would love to be able to eventually field under 14, under 16 and even and under 18s side.
"And we hope in the very near future we will be fielding our first junior girls’ team."
Megan paid tribute to the volunteers at the club, whose input would be severely hampered without Bisinella's support.
"So much work goes on behind the scenes in local sport. Without volunteers this simply wouldn’t get done. Clubs wouldn’t be able to survive. We appreciate all our volunteers who put their hands up to help," she said.
The next month is a big one for NGFNC, with the 10-year celebration of the men's 2013 premiership.
"It's a wonderful milestone for our club, it's been 10 years since we have won a senior premiership," Megan said.
"To be able to have a lot of these players still active and hands on out our club is also something to be celebrating."
Bisinella director Richard Bisinella said he was thrilled to continue to support the club and provide valuable sporting opportunities for the Geelong community.
"As a family business operating in the Geelong area for more than 50 years, supporting grassroot sports is something close to our hearts," he said.
"For Bisinella, our commitment extends beyond developing local communities through our projects, it also involves nurturing them, and the surrounding communities, for future generations."