On behalf of the club, I would formally like to welcome back all our players, partners and their families, along with all our club members, supporters and sponsors from your Christmas break. There has been so much going on behind the scenes since the completion of the 2018 season heading up with the appointment of our new senior coach Michael Hazell. Michael returns to the club after playing in Luke Beveridge's 2008 premiership team and it's great to have Michael back on board.
We would also like to welcome back Al Gailey as the senior women's coach again for the 2019 season after a tremendous year with the team last year. The numbers at pre-season training has been awesome and may even lead to us fielding a second women's team this season which really reflects highly on what Al, his players, and his support staff have been able to achieve over the last couple of years.
Russell Barnes, another fantastic football person, who has given so much to the club over many years, has agreed to continue on developing our younger players in our reserve grade competition which is really exciting.
Our Under 19's have been greatly strengthened with club icon and life member in Brad Berry returning back to the club after a successful period at the Sandringham Dragons to head up the senior Under 19 team with a wealth of quality assistants to provide an AFL based training system to help fast track the young talent at the club. Dan Young, who did a fantastic job with our bottom age Under 19's last year is back on board to further develop the group which is exciting news.
For the first time in over four years, and with such good numbers at training, that we will definitely be fielding a Club 18 team for the upcoming season ahead. Special thanks go to Finn Neaves and Jake Goodchild for getting out to past players and other members of the club who for whatever reason didn't play last year. The Club 18 competition will allow these players to be able to enjoy their football at a more social level and it will be great to have these players back at the club.
Although finding ourselves back in B Section this season, after two years of pretty competitive football in the highest division within the VAFA competition, it is with great excitement and enthusiasm that we welcome in the new year. Our playing group have been amazing in their preparation to the pre-season training period with over 50 players at each session in our five-week block leading up to Christmas. Dan Maitland, from Training with Mates, who has headed up our pre-season training has really worked the playing group over and the results are really starting to show. Dan has been really impressed by the willingness to work hard and improve and it will definitely hold us in good stead for the year ahead.
As with any amateur based club, it is nearly impossible to retain every player each year but the enthusiasm around the club, along with a fierce desire to return back to the Premier Division in 2020, has seen only a small number of players leave the club for various reasons. We are also excited to see a great spread of new players joining the ranks this year along with a couple of very important announcements in the coming weeks. This year also sees us resuming acquaintances with a few local rivals in Parkdale, Beaumaris, Haileybury, and Caulfield Grammarians which is quite handy as far as the travel aspect goes. Our furthest trip for the season will be will be venture out to Fitzroy.
On another exciting front, we will soon see development in the construction of our new state-of-the-art two-storey facility at Brindisi Reserve. Although there will be some inconvenience in the short-term, the finished product looks amazing and we can't wait for it to commence. All going well, we should take possession of the facility prior to the commencement of the 2020 season. Special thanks to Peter Davis and Mark Tyquin for all their amazing efforts in making this possible along with local, State and Federal funding.
We will be more prominent this year with our social media/communications to all our club members and sponsors and will inform you of any upcoming events including our season launch prior to the commencement of the 2019 season. Thanks again for your continued support of the club and we look forward to an amazing year ahead.
St Bedes/Mentone Tigers AFC