To Football Federation Australia,
There is no shadow of a doubt in my mind – the south-east of Victoria has to be represented in the A-League and W-League.
It’s been well documented for some time now that over the years this part of the state hasn’t got what it has deserved from a footballing, or even just a general sporting, perspective. Ever since the AFL took Waverley Park away from this area the whole sporting landscape has really missed out. So to be able to, a little bit like Western Sydney has done, carve out a little piece of our own landscape I think will be really powerful. The Wanderers belong to the people of Western Sydney – not the southern parts of Sydney or the inner suburbs – and that’s why I believe they are so successful. I truly believe we can do something similar here in the south-east of Victoria. That tribalism in regards to a particular area getting behind a professional team is something that is really missing from the sporting scene in Victoria except, really, for the Geelong Cats in the AFL.
I grew up in the south-east, not far from where this team will be based at Casey Fields. I played at Doveton, at Springvale City and at Casey Comets. My parents still live in Pakenham. This will be my local side. To come back and end my career in my own backyard would be a dream come true. But beyond that, to come back and see the young boys and girls trying to forge the path that I did all those years ago, how much easier would it be for them if they had that professional club playing not too far away from them, providing that pathway to the A-League or W-League? If there is that pathway, who knows how many other potential Socceroos and Matildas we might uncover. Having that presence in our community will give these kids something to aspire to and I think that that is something that is a little bit lost in the current setup. There are a lot of kids asking themselves ‘how am I going to get picked up?’ Melbourne Victory and Melbourne City are just that little bit out of the way – Team 11 can be a real valuable piece of the jigsaw.
Being involved with the Team 11 bid to date has seen memories come flooding back of my childhood and early career playing in the south-east. This is where it all started for me. There are so many great people involved in the game out here and that will never change. But to give them all a club to go and support and be involved in will be huge. This area is forever growing and so the opportunity for the A-League to also grow with it here is a massive one that the game cannot afford to pass up. If we can get an A-League and W-League club here I am convinced it will be hugely successful.