WEST Griffith SC powerbrokers have vowed to finally bridge the gap between the club’s vaunted junior production line and its faltering first-grade team.
Stung by a series of unexpected departures over the holiday break, president Steve Perlowski and his new-look committee have resolved to fix Wests’ flaws and stop a worrying senior player exodus.
Key trio Ben Duggan, Ross Morgan and Daniel Bergamin all switched to Griffith City FC last month, while others are understood to have joined returning first-grade side Yenda Tigers.
Perlowski is determined to make sure they are the last to leave as a push from within to transform Wests into a local heavyweight gathers steam.
“We have to create the environment they want to stay in, and we will,” he said.
“For some reason we seem to have lost quite a few (players) to other clubs and those clubs do try hard at getting them. That’s something we’ve got to change.
“Now we’re looking at doing things a little bit different to what we have done - focusing a little more on the seniors and uniting the whole club.
“We’ve got retain our juniors and also start bringing in some players from other clubs, rather than sitting back and just using what we’ve got.”
Wests are still hunting for a senior coach, but a group of club stalwarts and senior players headed by David Del Gigante and Anthony Febo have taken the reins on a caretaker basis with pre-season training to kick off next week.
While many juniors are expected to be blooded into the first-team this season to replace those who have left, Febo said the club was in negotations with a number of experienced players “of substantial quality”.
“My father started this club. It means a lot to me,” he said.
“We’ve started rebuilding. It’s not the first time we’ve had to do it, we always recover.
“It’s a shame to lose our players but our young talent would be spread over all the clubs fairly evenly. Every club would have a few ex-Wests players on their books.
“We’ve always put a lot of time and effort into the juniors and maybe that’s been our downfall, at the expense of the senior team. But we’re learning from our mistakes.”
Febo said Wests, who finished in second place the local competition last season, would not be as weak as many have predicted this season.
“We hold no grudges or anything towards the other clubs that have taken our players. That’s all water under the bridge,” he said.
“There’s now opportunities for a few more of our juniors at senior level.
“It might be a bit daunting for some the ones we throw in but we’ve got the talent. These kids will learn the hard way.
“The challenge for us is keeping them here after they’ve learned, and we’re more committed now than ever to doing that.”