Melbourne’s South-East continues to have a strong football footprint which is not surprising considering its DNA. It is steeped in football history but much like the region as a whole, it is largely understated.
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 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, Bailey Wright and Ajdin Hrustic were all born and bred in the region before pursuing their professional dreams overseas, along with Scott McDonald, Ljubo Milicevic, Curtis Good and Eugene Galekovic. Current A-League stars Jack Hingert and Leigh Broxham also played juniors in Knox.
Former Socceroos captain Paul Wade grew up and played in the region, while John Hutchinson headlines the many products 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, Paulo Retre, Xhezair Sulemani and Paul Byrne are among the locals who 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. The trio each played for Dandenong North, Berwick City and Casey Comets.
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 today.
The region is represented in the WNPL competition by Southern United.
Currently there are 100+ clubs and over 21,000 registered players in the South-East, with that number growing rapidly.