Every few weeks the Nelson Weekly sits down to have lunch at The Vic Brewbar with someone interesting doing something interesting. This week we speak to Bill Dahlberg who, after more than 30 years of involvement with the franchise, is stepping away from the Nelson Giants.
So, why did you make the decision to step down from your role as general manager?
I think it’s probably time to move on, the council has some exciting stuff happening and I wanted to put more focus on my new roles there. I have put in two and a half years. The first year and a half was a transitional period which oversaw the successful retirement of the old Giants and then a year of setting the platform for the future. This meant getting quality people onboard including coaches, admin and players. It takes a lot of energy. It isn’t easy running a national sports team.
What accomplishments are you most proud of during your time with the Giants?
We have managed to get some very exciting players and coaches which has set the tone. We had Jamie Pearlman come in as coach from Australia who was brilliant. I also picked up businessman Chris Jackson, Lee Babe from Nelmac, lawyer Dean Gavin, Alison McAlpine and Richard Eagles for the transition panel which we then took forward to the first Giant’s board. We also had amazing support from the likes of Bowater and Hunter’s Wine, they really gave us the confidence we could do it. Creating Kiwi Hoops coaching in schools programme with Julie Bensemann, who has grown so much in her role as an administrator. The transition to electronic ticketing has also been great for our supporters and has saved a lot of time. Getting the NMIT hospitality and service delivery team onboard is something I am proud of. They are one of the major businesses in Nelson and bring young people into town who we can give real and exciting job experience. We have had great feedback from our supporters. Plenty of businesses now want to enjoy a night out with the Giants. Sustainability is what this has all been about because we just couldn’t afford for the Giants to fall over.
What have been some of the highlights during your tenure?
Seeing the energy come back to the Giants. We are inspiring our young people. The win over the Sharks at home announced to the fans that we had arrived again. The final run of games to the finals, the excitement, the crowds, the hairs on the back of my necks were standing up, the boys were playing fabulous, it signalled all the good things about live sport. It’s been a lot of fun.
How do you feel about the current state of the Giants?
The club has made some great progress in terms of connectivity. We have created a new website with Hot House. Other key partnerships have been made with NBS and the Nelson Weekly which has increased our audience. We also have some seriously talented players. Mika coming in to help has been invaluable. Finn Delaney has gone from a good player to the best forward in the league. We can turn out quality and we can make a stamp on the national league, you just have to have the right people around you. The Nelson Giants have always had a high profile. We always battle above our weight and it’s great to see the fans back in the stands.
Do you plan to stay involved with the club?
I will always be a Nelson Giants supporter. I will be there in my Giants gear with bells on.