Football Wagga elects interim boss Hardinge

HOLDING THE FORT: Wagga United president Ian Hardinge, who has been on the Football Wagga board before, steps into president Erwin Budde's role on April 1 for four months. Picture: Kieren L. Tilly
HOLDING THE FORT: Wagga United president Ian Hardinge, who has been on the Football Wagga board before, steps into president Erwin Budde's role on April 1 for four months. Picture: Kieren L. Tilly

Football Wagga wasn’t exactly inundated with applicants when Erwin Budde announced he was stepping down from the association’s most heavily-scrutinised and time-consuming role.

But sure enough, the association found a couple of willing candidates, and the position will be filled until the next Annual General Meeting at the end of the year.

With the blessing of clubs, the association elected Wagga United president Ian Hardinge as interim president for four months at a board meeting on Tuesday.

“It seems they ran out of options,” Hardinge said, joking.

“I’m here to help (operations manager) Dave Merlino with the day-to-day running off the competition. I don’t want him to burn out.

“I just want to keep the ship steering in the same direction, in my presidency there won’t be any major changes.”

Football Wagga senior registrations are projected to increase slightly on 2016.

“The game’s in a very good place,” he said.

“Our grounds, our facilities are always going to be a priority but that’s not going to change in 2017.

“Coming off the wet year we had and complaints we’ve had it looks like the registration numbers haven’t been affected.

“There was a fear people wouldn’t come back but looking at all the senior teams it’s grown from last year.”

Strong registrations come off the back of a successful six-a-side and futsal summer season – an area for expansion in upcoming years according to Hardinge.

Outgoing president Erwin Budde will step down on March 31, but he’s not letting go completely.

“I wouldn’t want to,” he said.

“I love the sport, I hope to provide expertise when I can.”

Budde will continue to advise Football Wagga on facilities, and work as the conduit to Sydney FC.

In August, Henwood Park secretary Tony Dobbins, who’s overseas in June-July, will take on the portfolio.

Dobbins has held high-ranking positions in government agencies, and has since retired.

“He’s well-placed to deal with planning, competition rules, and review regulations leading up to the AGM,” Budde said.

“Both Ian and Tony are absolutely perfect for the role, I’m very comfortable and confident about handing my duties to them.

“They have the game’s best interest at heart.”

Hardinge can hold his position as Wagga United president so long as he represents Football Wagga at meetings, and a separate delegate attends to represent the Crows.