When the Daylesford Football/Netball Club made the ambitious move of engaging a club chaplain at the beginning of 2016, the hardest selling point was convincing members religion played no part in the program.
Twelve months on and in the wake of the tragic death of former president and favourite son Bernie Jurcan, chaplain Glenn Rowbotham has more than proven his worth to the club.
Daylesford senior football coach Marcus Goonan, who also came on board for season 2016, said the decision to bring Mr Rowbotham into the fold was about expanding to role of the club.
“I don't think football clubs should be all about football,” Mr Goonan said. “I think they're great supporting environments and we should be able to support the players and supporters as well as other clubs.”
Throughout the season the Baptist chaplain would attend trainings and matches, often assisting with basic tasks such as running drills alongside the coaching staff.
Mr Rowbotham said one of the critical steps in fostering his relationship with the club’s members was breaking down the concept that the role of a councillor had to involve one on one conversations.
“A lot of my role is to provide informal support and be a mentor and to provide referrals to specialist help where necessary,” Mr Rowbotham said. “It’s still a new thing for the club and people are still opening up to the concept, and any good relationship involves trust so they’re getting to know me and I am getting to know them as well.”
Following Mr Jurcan’s death earlier this year Mr Rowbotham’s role was again to simply be a presence at the club, particularly during the immediate aftermath when the club rooms were opened up to members to mourn the unexpected loss of a friend. For many members, having a space to collectively grieve played a big part in their recovery.
“I think (the club has) done a pretty good job of turning the event into something positive by allowing members to know where to get help from when they need it,” Mr Rowbotham said.