Launceston Tornadoes to review structure in bid to clear grand final hurdle

Launceston Tornadoes coach Richard Dickel addresses his troops.
Launceston Tornadoes coach Richard Dickel addresses his troops.

The Launceston Tornadoes will look back before they move forward.

Just days after falling short in the SEABL south conference for the second consecutive year, chairwoman Janie Finlay said her team would undertake a thorough review of 2017 before looking ahead to next season.

Coach Richard Dickel’s one-season contract has expired but the experienced New Zealander signalled an interest in continuing on after taking over from Ben Rush, who left the club in April just four matches into a two-year term.

“We will go through a very methodical and diligent exit interview process with the players, coaching panel, support team, sponsors and supporters and then use that to prepare ourselves for a strategic planning session and our action plan for next year,” Finlay said.

“There will be many hours of hard work going on in the next month in order to start making decisions.

“Richard has delivered so much to our club this year… and there is no structure yet around what we will look at next year but we as a board will do what we have done in recent years and that is make some clear decisions and consider the club’s best interests moving forward.”

Finlay said the position would be advertised and that an announcement around the coaching structure could be expected by the end of September.

The Torns’ big names are starting to fly out for their next campaigns with captain Lauren Mansfield bound for Poland, Lauren Nicholson off to Adelaide and Tayla Roberts to pull on a Dandenong shirt.

Finlay said it was too early to say if all of this year’s stars would return for 2018.

Launceston went through a tough patch several years ago with the club nearing financial collapse and failing to play finals between 2011 and 2014.

However, the Tornadoes have been on an upwards trend since with crowd numbers growing from sub-200 to averaging 650 fans this season at Elphin Sports Centre.

Finlay and her team have stabilised the club’s finances and have reached benchmarks of a three-year strategic plan two years early and will therefore refresh its vision in the next few months.

“Our number one goal is to be the leading female sports club in Tasmania and we think we are well on the way to achieving that in terms of our reputation and what we deliver,” she said.

“We set a target at the end of last year to triple our budget over the next three years.

“The number one challenge for us has been our financial stability and we’ve nearly doubled our budget in the past year.

“That just puts us on a shoestring budget, we’ve been less than shoestrings for a very long time.

“Doubling our budget means we can be reasonable in the way that we operate but want to lift that again and for us to be sustainable so it is not a challenge year on, year out.”

Finlay said now that the club was financially stable and had been able to increase the hours of paid work by general manager Corey Ackerly, the focus would turn to stabilising key coaching and support staff roles within the organisation.

She said expanding the club’s time spent in Northern Tasmanian schools, community engagement and sponsorship partnerships were also imperative.

“We’re forever grateful for the support we receive and we’re really proud of what we’ve been able to achieve.”