THIS is not just about football for Sebastopol. This is about community pride - always has been, really.
To reach Ballarat Football League's senior football grand final is a massive achievement. While nothing short of victory would cap off this legendary resurrection for the 'Burra, the whole club should be congratulated and take satisfaction in reaching this big dance.
Two seasons ago, the Burra boys were languishing on the ladder bottom with one win to their name but a changing club culture and strong, unique partnership with the club's netballers was creating the foundations for success.
Grand final contender and defending BFL seniors title holder East Point enjoyed the rewards of its own culture shift last season. For so long, there had been hard work to bring rival camps East Ballarat and Golden Point together but last season, 17 years after amalgamation, premiership players from each side said the time was right for East Point to forge its own identity with a flag.
East Point was a more united force than ever before from seniors right down to juniors, where the identities of old had lingered most. And the Kangaroos now boast a generation of Roos in their own right.
This generation has the chance to build on their breakthrough win, to mark a glory era.
For Sebastopol, it has been almost 20 years since glory and most of this time has been at the competition's bottom ranks.
When Shane Snibson arrived at Marty Busch for the 2015 pre-season he joined forces with Burras' A-grade netball coach Georgia Cann. They plotted summer training programs together, footballers and netballers united, and revisited these sessions through the season. They would bounce coaching ideas off each other. They helped guide a "one club" focus on and off the field.
This football-netball partnership has continued under Burras' coach Leigh Hutchinson. Cann says this is about taking a genuine interest in each others' lives and an approach she knows other clubs were working to re-create.
When you start creating a culture like that, the environment is right for success.Georgia Cann, Sebastopol netball coach and vice-president
"When you start creating a culture like that, the environment is right for success," Cann told Press Box.
"Hutchy and I have found we're fairly similar in how we coach. He's someone I bounce off a lot. It's a strong partnership between senior coaches. If players see that, senior coaches working together, it shows what's the standard."
Performance is a full team effort across the board.
And, like all clubs, senior football is the ultimate gauge for success.
Cann, who is also club vice-president, said the board had adopted a more strategic approach, acutely aware three years ago it was in trouble.
The biggest thing, Cann said, was knowing what this grand final meant to so many people who have stuck with the club through-and-through. The stories, the tears, the buzz this week.
What Sebastopol really has going for it, is a proud community vibe more akin to a Central Highlands club than BFL rivals. There is a sense of Sebastopol identity you can feel as your drive down Albert Street, right at the heart of the community, with blue-and-yellow club colours flying proudly.
This goes right back to the community's roots in the Borough of Sebastopol.
This is a club, and a whole community behind it, that demands to be taken seriously. This is what the 'Burra will bring to BFL grand final day.
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