THE WA Country Football League has a new manager with former South Fremantle player Tom Bottrell set to take the reins at the end of July.
Mr Bottrell has been appointed as executive manager - country football and facilities and this latest role follows on from a career in football administration.
He was chief executive officer of Swan Districts Football Club for five years and then moved to South Fremantle, serving as the club's CEO since January 2017.
He has also been CEO of the Stephen Michael Foundation since 2017 and said the new position was a logical career step for him.
"The next step was to work for the WA Football Commission or join the West Coast Eagles or Fremantle Dockers," Mr Bottrell said.
"This will be a big role, there is obviously an extensive area to cover but we have three metropolitan-based staff who look after regionally-based staff and so there is a good base there.
"Initially I will travel around and meet key stakeholders and see what is happening on the ground and how they see the game from their perspective."
"This is a great opportunity for me that also demonstrates a pathway for administrators, just as there is for players, coaches and umpires.
"The responsibility of overseeing 25 football leagues and aligning the player pathway across country WA, as well as the WAFC Strategic Facilities Plan is really exciting.
"Country football is such an important part of the game and I'm looking forward to getting out and meeting everyone I will be working with.
"There is also a lot of work required to ensure we continue developing community football facilities to cater for WA's impressive participation growth, particularly with female football, so I am also looking forward to the opportunity this presents."
Mr Bottrell said it would be important to be innovative to ensure country football was as strong as possible going into the future.
"Country football plays a large role in communities and in most cases it is the fabric of these communities and what brings people together," he said.
"There are some challenges out there and I will have to get creative to ensure sustainability in leagues.
"You can't treat every league the same, the South West is obviously different to the Central Wheatbelt so you have to take that into account when looking at what we do in the future."
WAFC CEO Gavin Taylor said he was excited to welcome Mr Bottrell to the WAFC's executive management team and was looking forward to working closely on strategies to enhance football across WA.
"Tom is a high quality appointment, that brings a good mix of football and business administration experience and I am really looking forward to working with him in this new role," Mr Taylor said.
"This position forms part of the WAFC's new executive structure that was announced at the beginning of the year to align with the key priorities of our business and the broader football industry.
"It will provide increased support for regional football with a particular focus on strengthening country competitions and boosting participation from junior through to senior football.
"Country football provides so many benefits to local communities and we want to ensure that we can keep football prospering across our great State.
"As we grow our numbers in the game we also need to ensure we are effectively planning for football facilities, with both our clubs and local and State governments.
"Tom will play an important part in leading the long-term planning, funding and development opportunities for facilities across WA."
WA Country Football League president John Shadbolt said the executive manager role was an exciting development for country football in WA that demonstrated the WAFC's commitment to growing the game across regional communities.
"We are excited to have Tom coming into this role and believe he will be a great leader and manager of country football," Mr Shadbolt said.