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Moot Point: Tsekenis deserved Newcastle Jets spot

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Farewell Bankstown, welcome Spartans

It is only a few years ago when Bankstown City Lions were the team of the NSW Premier League. In short, they had it all: championships, coaches, players, sponsors – you name it, Bankstown had it.

It’s terribly disappointing therefore to see such a rapid decline to the point where Football NSW announced recently that this proud club had been relegated to the NSW Super League. I, for one, will miss going to Jensen Park in season 2012. The smell of the BBQ, the joyous support of their predominantly Macedonian-Australian fan base and the wobbly old grandstand made it all so special. It was a throwback to yesteryear and it had a real family feel about the place.

In the space of 12 months, after their coach Peter Tsekenis and his assistant Peter Papoythis were enticed over to Sydney Olympic, along with a string of players who followed their mentor like the pied piper, it all went pear shaped for Bankstown. On the other hand, Tsekenis and co led Olympic – a club he once proudly played for – to the Premiership and Championship double in their first season in charge at Belmore.

Who said coaches don’t make a difference? And what does Tsekenis have to do to secure an A-League contract? Surely he would have been an ideal fit for say the Newcastle Jets after they parted company so abruptly with Branko Culina. While I am not trying to take anything away from Gary van Egmond who has been appointed, I am simply suggesting that Tsekenis deserves a go somewhere.

So while Bankstown will ply their trade in the lower league next season, the Blacktown Spartans will make their debut in the NSW Premier League. I saw this club comprehensively beat APIA Leichhardt on a cold Wednesday evening at Lambert Park a few months ago in the quarterfinals of the NSW Waratah Cup. The Spartans played like they belonged in the higher league leaving their more fancied opponents aghast.

It will also be the first time that Blacktown will host two teams in the NSW Premier League: the Spartans and the traditional Blacktown City FC. We can only wish the new boys the best of luck and if they play like they did in the NSW Super League in 2011 then they will definitely be a force to be reckoned with.



Great appointments

It’s tremendous to see that Football Federation Australia have appointed Sarah Walsh and Sally Shipard to the roles of Game Development Education Officers. Walsh and Shipard are two of Australia’s most experienced and successful Matildas. They will now have the opportunity to combine their football careers with these newly created roles.

As part of their duties they will play a lead role in the coordination and delivery of the Alcohol & Illicit Drug Education Program. It’s great to see that the national body is able to assist in the development of a career path for two of our best female players. Both are currently undertaking tertiary study – Walsh a Bachelor of Business (Marketing) and Shipard a Bachelor of Arts (Journalism and Media). The value of education – especially tertiary education - for our players cannot be underestimated.

For many players there is a real vacuum once their career finishes. What exactly is their skill set besides the ability to play football? In rugby league, for instance, this is even more of an issue. The Men of League is a charity organisation designed to help former players who have fallen on harder times.

One of the drawbacks of professional football is that young players are forced to leave school and forgo an academic path in favour of chasing the riches on offer on the football field. And, for some, it is quite a lucrative path especially if they are able to secure a career in football (perhaps in coaching or the media) once their careers have finished. But for many, it is let down.




Getting ready for the W-League

And, finally, I can’t wait for the W-League to begin this weekend. Sydney FC will be using the magnificent the Leichhardt Oval and ABC-TV will be showing the match of the round live every Saturday at 3pm.


Good luck to all involved.