Sebastopol’s hopes of playing finals in the Ballarat Football League next year have been given a massive boost.
VFL-experienced Luke Kiel will join his former North Ballarat Roosters teammates Tony Lockyer, Lachie Cassidy, Matt Austin, James Keeble and Nick Hausler – who have all recommitted to a second year with the club – at the Burra.
Kiel makes the move after a season with Geelong in the VFL, where he played every game.
Kiel, who will bolster Sebastopol’s midfield, switched to Geelong after the Roosters folded at the end of 2017.
He said the Roosters link and the opportunity to make a difference at a club on the rise had been key factors in choosing Sebastopol as his next football destination.
He said going to a club where he already knew people would help provide a smooth transition.
Kiel said he had decided before the end of the season that it would be his last in the VFL and once he received call from the Burra did not take a lot of persuading to play at Marty Busch Reserve.
Sebastopol’s Shawne Dummett said with the midfield identified as an area in which the Burra needed to improve, Kiel would provide experience, more depth and added physical strength.
The ex-North Ballarat co-captain said playing with an AFL club’s VFL arm had been a much different experience for him after being with the Roosters in a part alignment with North Melbourne and later as a standalone club.
He admitted to finding it difficult to deal with effectively being a “top-up” player, with team structured around Geelong AFL-listed players – leaving VFL players to fill the gaps.
“I enjoyed the experience and learnt a lot, but wasn’t always totally comfortable.”
Kiel said it meant players were more individually focused as they fought for a spot in the team, knowing that no matter how well they played there were no guarantees.
As well as making a contribution as a player, Kiel is also looking forward to helping with player development.
Sebastopol won eight games this year to finish seventh – just one game outside the top six. The Burra has not played finals since 2000.