The bid to bring an A-League and W-League club to the south-east of Victoria has received the overwhelming backing of local football clubs in the region.
A total of 43 clubs have provided Letters of Support to Team 11’s bid, which was conveyed to Football Federation Australia and Deloitte as part of the bid team’s Expression of Interest submission.
The clubs are of various sizes, from Berwick City with more than 900 players to Sandown Lions with about 40.
They come from a wide array of leagues, with the National Premier League, Victorian state leagues, Latrobe Valley Soccer League, Gippsland Soccer League, the Victorian Churches Football Association, Bayside Football Association and Melbourne Chinese Soccer Association all represented.
And there are also clubs from each of the 12 local council districts that have backed the Team 11 bid.
Team 11 Project Officer Matt Windley said the bid would work with these clubs – and others in south-east Victoria – in the coming months to establish what a formal working relationship would look like if and when the A-League push is successful.
“This club will be nothing without the backing of the local football community,” Windley said.
“The support received thus far has been incredible and we can’t thank enough the tireless efforts of the volunteers who run these clubs to help Team 11’s bid.
“We would love to have relationships with all clubs in the south-east of Victoria. The door will always be open to all.
“This is a club that has to be of benefit to its local football community. It goes beyond simply playing A-League and W-League matches locally, it has to be a genuine presence in the community and provide a genuine professional pathway for our young boys and girls.
“These Letters of Support are an indication from our community that we are building this bid in the right way thus far.”
The clubs that provided letters of support are: Afghan Victory, Aspendale, Berwick Churches, Berwick City, Bunyip and District Strikers, Casey Comets, Casey Panthers, Chelsea, Dandenong City, Dandenong South, Dandenong Thunder, Doveton, Endeavour Hills Fire, Endeavour Sporting Club, Endeavour United, Gippsland FC, Hampton Park Sparrows, Inverloch Stars, James Cook FC, Keysborough, Knox Churches, Korumburra City, Langwarrin, Mazenod Victory, Mornington, Mount Martha, Newborough-Yallourn, Old Mentonians, Pakenham United, Peninsula Strikers Junior FC, Peninsula Strikers Senior FC, Sandown Lions, Skye United, South Springvale, Southern United, Springvale City, Springvale White Eagles, Trafalgar Victory, Traralgon City Warragul United, Westernport, White Star Dandenong, Wonthaggi United.
JOHANN POPPENBECK (KNOX CHURCHES PRESIDENT)
“It’s about broadening the catchment areas at the grassroots level. We’ve seen a high growth of football in the south-east in recent years and, particularly at our club, that has been consistent for a while. We think that can actually go exponentially further if there were legitimate local pathways to the higher levels. We see this club as broadening those pathways.”
ZAKARYA SHOJAIE (AFGHAN VICTORY PRESIDENT)
“Dandenong, where our club is based, is the most multicultural area in the country. This is where a professional football club belongs. To have a club here where we can provide greater encouragement for our kids to achieve their dreams as elite footballers would be amazing.”
DAWN STONE (CASEY COMETS PRESIDENT)
“To get everybody’s buy in like we have shows the importance of this to the community and just the want and the need to have this come to our region.”
LISA FORSTER (PAKENHAM UNITED PRESIDENT)
“It’ll benefit all of us in the south-east by having a stadium in Dandenong and the training base in Casey. It will give all of our kids in the region the opportunity to have a go because those facilities are in their community. It doesn’t matter where they are, so long as they’re in the south-east, we’re all getting access to the professional game like we never have before.”
JOHN ZECCOLA (CHELSEA SC PRESIDENT)
“You talk to so many people about this and they say, ‘this will be so good, I don’t have to go all the way into the city any more, this is a club that is in our region that I can support’. And, being so close, we feel as if we will be able to have far greater access to the club in terms of administrators, resources and, of course, the players.”
JOHN HESKINS (LANGWARRIN SC PRESIDENT)
“Having an A-League team based in the south-east would be a significant advantage for our system. Being an NPL side, we’re looking for a pathway for our kids to progress to and for me that’s the biggest attraction of having an A-League club locally.”
MATT CAMERON (MORNINGTON SC PRESIDENT)
“Location is the huge thing. Having a stadium in Dandenong 25 minutes up the road, it’s far easier to get to. But it’d also be great for our kids to be able to watch and aspire to play for that club that is representing their local area.”
LACHLAN WYATT (TRAFALGAR VICTORY PRESIDENT)
“There are 3500 registered players in the Gippsland Soccer League and the Latrobe Valley Soccer League, 900 of which are women. For us there’s no real pathway to a future in the game – as a player, coach, administrator – it’s really hard, unless you uproot your life to move to Melbourne. So to have an A-League club out here would be a huge boost for everything, including general interest in the game and increased registrations.”