WITH excitement building ahead of the long-awaited return of footy and netball, league and club representatives gathered at the Morwell RSL on Monday, April 4, to launch the Mid Gippsland Football Netball League (MGFNL) season.

High-flying past Melbourne footballer Russell Robertson, and retired Australian Diamonds netball star Madi Browne entertained attendees, with MC and league publicity officer Rob Popplestone eliciting interesting stories from both guest speakers.

Robertson recalled the ‘basket case’ Melbourne Football Club was, describing the contrast with the current Demons squad and their ability to play for each other and make sacrifices.

Browne spoke of the disparity between elite level men’s and women’s sport when she started playing netball for the Melbourne Kestrels.

She signed a contract for just $200 a game, while fellow Geelong citizen Shaun Higgins was drafted to AFL club North Melbourne, signing a $60,000 contract.

During her chat with Popplestone, Browne also recalled her father’s disgust at her decision to represent Collingwood’s netball side, given his many games for Geelong Football Club.

Popplestone also spoke to new Tarwin coach Troy Hemming who said recruiting has gone smoothly, with bringing more locals to the club his focus.

“The club culture is really good and if we keep getting locals, we’ll stay stronger for longer,” Hemming said, noting recruiting has proved much simpler than people told him it would.

He’s excited by his new challenge at the Sharks as the season gets underway.

Attendees enjoyed the chance to catch up for a social evening with a sense of normality that will hopefully carry through to a full season of footy and netball.