Victoria’s south-east has an exceptionally proud – but understated – football history.
Vince Grella, an official Team 11 Ambassador, is perhaps the region’s most notable product and one of many who wore the south-east regional team’s green shirt before kicking on to play professionally and internationally.
But Grella (Keysborough) is just one of no less than 20 Socceroos and Matildas and in excess of 60 players to have played in the A-League, W-League, National Soccer League or overseas that have been produced in our local backyards, parks and football fields.
Current Socceroos trio Jackson Irvine (Endeavour Hills), Bailey Wright (Langwarrin) and Ajdin Hrustic (Dandenong) were all born and bred in the south-east before pursuing their professional dreams overseas, along with Scott McDonald (Cranbourne), Ljubo Milicevic (Dandenong), Curtis Good (Rowville) and Eugene Galekovic (Chelsea). Current A-League stars Jack Hingert and Leigh Broxham played juniors in Knox, while the likes of Matt Millar (Berwick), Kenny Athiu (Narre Warren) and Paulo Retre (Endeavour Hills) also hail from the region.
Another Team 11 ambassador, Socceroos legend Paul Wade, grew up and played in Hallam, as did his international teammate Warren Spink. John Hutchinson and Manny Gelagotis headline the production line from the Latrobe Valley, many of whom got an opportunity during Morwell Falcons’ (later Eastern Pride) almost decade-long spell in the NSL.
John Maisano, Joey Di Iorio and Anthony Pelikan are among the players who’ve officially represented Australia at youth level.
Naum Sekulovski, Simon Storey, Joey Rajher, Rade Culibrk, Antun Kovacic, Xhezair Sulemani and Paul Byrne are other locals to have played in the National Soccer League and/or the A-League.
Football Federation Victoria hall of famers Theresa Deas, Deborah Nichols and Jane Oakley headline an impressive list of former Matildas to have hailed from the region. Deas and Nichols are also Team 11 Ambassadors, while all three played for Dandenong North, Berwick City and Casey Comets throughout their career.
Modern day Matildas icon Steph Catley played juniors for the South East Cougars and her family home remains in Seaford, while up and coming star Jacynta Galabadaarachchi was born and raised in Pakenham. Dandenong-born Tiffany Eliadis, Drouin Dragons and Casey Comets junior Alex Gummer and former Berwick local Rachel Binning are among those still in W-League circles.
The region is represented in the WNPL competition by Southern United.
Currently there are 100+ clubs and over 22,000 registered players in the South-East, with that number growing rapidly. More than 55 local clubs officially joined Team 11’s initial A-League and W-League push, all submitting letters of support that were lodged to FFA with the bid.