Reflections from Cazalys Cairns

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A few weeks ago we caught up with Jason Wale, General Manager of Cazalys in Cairns.  It is so great to hear directly from our clubs and key industry leaders to give us their real thoughts on how clubland has faired over the last 6-12 months.  Jason was happy give us an overview and personal thoughts on how things have been running in Cairns and especially at his club.

Jason Wale, The Eternal Optimist in a Challenging Year

This year has shaped up as the most interesting and most unforgettable work year of my life. Firstly, and most importantly, the human cost throughout this has been by far the most costly and tragic. This cannot be overstated.  I am sure every Club Manager has seen a staff member’s mental state crumble right in front of their eyes. Truly tragic, unspeakably tragic, but we must move forward.

This year has had everything! It commenced in the normal way, then COVID-19 hit!  Changes came fast pre shut down, then actual shut down – Staff assistance, JobKeeper, reopening the venue, a tsunami of trade, national sporting hubs shifted, and we gained many more televised events to name a few.

When we completed our four national AFL games, I recall a moment I had, driving home exhausted after our first game – a 19-hour day.  Only a few months before, I was the only person working in a closed down 5,000m2 club.  I was clicking away on my computer, in the dark saving electricity, planning to put humpy dumpty back together again. To present day, driving home, reflecting on pulling off a national event on very short notice and the complexity of venue specific stadium COVID plans.

Typically, we get the draw late in the year and have many months to plan, even if the event is round one. But not this year, we had a few weeks and we had to get a COVID plan approved. The $/head spend in the bars were up significantly, as too was increased numbers of smokers in the DOSA’s, a worrying pandemic sign. We had seats laid out on our hill as everyone had to be seated and distanced. This was a new concept in response to an apparent unacceptable event on the Sunshine Coast.  As too was the staged exit, just to name just a few.  Surprisingly, these worked well.

I won’t go into the complexities of it, I’d just say; under the watchful eye of many government departments, we achieved in style.  Our team pulled together and worked at maximum capacity and achieved something which in hindsight, is quite remarkable. I still shake my head on refection, going from closed to national event in a few months. Sometimes we limit in our minds what’s possible. As the eternal optimist, I feel energised by a different and refreshingly new set of challenges.

In closing, the game has changed. We need to get on changing, to adapt to a new environment and carve a new path forward in a sustainable way.  All the best.
Jason Wale, Cazalys Carnis

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