A decade-long tenure as one of the leaders at Port City Breakers has Geoff Kelly primed to hit the ground running as Group 3 rugby league chairman from 2023.
Kelly was elected to take over from outgoing chairman Wayne Bridge after 15 years in the job at the group's annual general meeting on December 15.
He is the first official from the Hastings to be elected Group Three chairman and was previously a vice-president with Group Three.
The 57-year-old has been president of the Breakers senior club for the last six years and before that he was involved with the junior Breakers for 12 years.
There are a number of things the new chairman wants to achieve, but he has no intentions of making change for the sake of it.
He sees merit in matches being played under lights - with the approval of the clubs - as a way of trying to bring crowds back.
"People will pay to come and watch good football," Kelly said.
"I don't want to harp on COVID, but we saw a drop away [in crowds in 2022 and 2021] because of the rain, but this year's grand final [at Old Bar] just goes to show that every club can put [a grand final] on.
"Unfortunately Old Bar don't have the facilities, but they still put on a fantastic day which showed people will come to watch finals. We just need those same numbers attending week-to-week."
Kelly would also like to see all clubs place more emphasis on junior rugby league with more input from the senior grades.
"I would like to see junior grades become part of the senior day every now and then and also have senior players drop back to coach junior teams," he said.
"I want to see juniors come through all grades and into [representative] sides. It's great to have prominent players that have come into our competition, but to have local blokes standout and play representative level is what I want to push as much as possible."
More club involvement when it came to helping out with dwindling referee numbers also featured prominently on his hit list.
"I'd like two or three representatives from each club to do a refereeing course which will help increase our numbers of officials," Kelly said.
"They already have a strong understanding of the game."
Kelly acknowledged there were no concerns from any club about his ability to balance a role as Port City president along with being the face of Group 3.
"I've got a pretty good relationship with most of the clubs and I've always been known to be quite fair," he said.
He has been on the group's executive committee for the last five years.
"Everybody who is on that committee has come from some club or another at some point," he said.
The admission of Lake Cathie into the Group 3 senior (under-18) ranks for the 2023 season will be an exciting addition to the competition.
Kelly feels it will provide another pathway into senior football with the Raiders to look at fielding a reserve grade side in the next two to three years.
"It's a great move for junior football and for [Lake Cathie players] to have somewhere to go," he said.
"If they don't have a direction for them to go through the group, players will fall away and play another sport. We know Cathie has a two or three-year plan so if they can form a reserve grade side and then first grade it will only strengthen Group 3."
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