Dawes plans ?a shake-up
By GREG WHITE
ALREADY the signs are this will be no ordinary sporting administration.
Weeks after settling in as president of Coffs Comets, Dion Dawes is wondering what his election will bring.
"I still ask what I've gotten myself into and if I'm going to upset anybody," he said.
"There'll be no fence-sitting, that's for sure.
"The Macksville era and the Sharks premiership took the focus off northern rugby league and we have to get the local game back to prominence."
Falling attendances in 2006 and increasing competition has Dawes concerned.
"We can't waste time sitting around, the locally-based clubs have to get off their bums to spread the message," he said.
"It's something I discussed with (Sawtell coach) Craig Wallace, about the passion we need in the fans.
"I don't care if people come to boo the Comets or the Panthers or whoever . . . all that counts is that people pick a team they want to support, then get out there behind them."
Dawes believes rugby league - something he constantly refers to as 'our precious game' - can learn a lot from rival sports.
When told football premiers Urunga Raiders had averaged crowds of 500-plus during 2006, Dawes replied: "That's outrageous.
"Good luck for doing their job well because that may be even better than some of the league crowds.
"We've got to match and better them by getting people back to the traditional 'number one' in this state."
And he admires the AFL/Victorian model where the game is as much A cultural phenomenon as sport.
"Every man, woman and child should support a local league team, even if their knowledge of the game is passing," Dawes said.
Matching his straight-forward views on the code is his attitude to sponsors.
"Too many sports not just rugby league look at sponsorship as a donation and this attitude must change," he said.
"We must showcase the corporates who pay good money and involve them at every level of our operation.
"That's the attitude we take at Bellbowrie Motors (his employers) and what the Comets will continue to do, and encourage everybody else to do."
Dawes is hosting a sausage sizzle at Advocate Park tonight at 6pm when incoming captain-coach Aaron Dyett will make his maiden public appearance.
"It's Aaron's first crack at coaching and my first shot at president," he laughed.
"That makes us a couple of virgin soldiers."
Realising the significance of his words, he added: "If you can't think of a headline, ask me and I'll see if I can give you one."
Without question, Dawes and his club will be creating many headlines in the months ahead.