‘Fire still burns’: AFL head forced to quit 17-year career
From starting a club to fostering growth and catering for premiership-winning AFL juggernauts - Paul Tresise says there's plenty to treasure from almost two decades overseeing the region's Aussie rules scene.
The AFL Sunshine Coast/Wide Bay regional manager has been forced to step away from his role due to COVID-19 restructuring and cuts at AFL.
A massive loss of up to $400 million in revenue this year has led to the code wielding the axe and letting go of senior staff across the country.
It brings an end to 17 years of dedicated contributions to the game in the region.
He's not alone, with Sharon Glover, Dayne Frew and Shannon Campbell also being farewelled from their roles at AFL Sunshine Coast.
While disappointed, Tresise said there were plenty of fond memories to look back on.
"Just seeing regular smiles on the participants (was great)," he said.
"Along the way there's been thousands of fantastic people invested in the game at club land and then stakeholders outside of that, including the media and schools have been fantastic.
"They've opened doors and got involved and there's been some great teachers and along the way there's been some good sponsorship."
He first got involved in the code by forming and becoming the inaugural president of the Glasshouse Hinterland Lions in 1997 after his son was eager to try another sport.
He held that role for seven years before being employed by AFL Queensland in 2004 to help oversee the sport across the Coast.
He said the game had experienced plenty of growth through that time, with most of it coming after the Brisbane Lions premiership three peat between 2001-03.
"From 1997 to 2020 there's been huge changes," he said.
"I think in 1997 we were probably kicking around 350 (juniors) which would be pushing towards the 2000 mark now."
He said the general feeling towards the sport had also significantly become more positive over the past 20 years.
"I reckon the biggest change is the acceptance of the game," he said.
"I suppose the terminology people use towards AFL has changed, like GayFL was a common one with the kids.
"(But) We've had some great school programs and Auskick obviously has been a winner with young kids and all in all I think everybody accepts it as a quality and suitable sport."
Another highlight of his time managing the local game has been welcoming AFL teams to the region for pre-season camps.
"I always enjoyed seeing the mighty Hawthorn Hawks on our territory and they were a regular," he said.
"I was fortunate that I got stood back up for 11 weeks prior to finishing up to assist clubs in the bubble over winter.
"Another highlight over my time is seeing kids get drafted (into the AFL) and that goes back to Josh Drummond."
While his role has been made redundant, and not eager to dive straight back into club footy just yet, Tresise hasn't ruled out getting back involved with the local code in the future.
"I think the inclusion footy I'll probably have a look at," he said.
"I think there is still a fire there burning for it but I won't be in a hurry to land at a footy club specifically."