A members forum has been announced for August 15th (this Thursday) in the social club, with a starting time of 7:00PM.
Unfortunately, due to my Thursday evening radio commitments, I won't be able to attend this meeting. If someone wants to volunteer to act as the people's scribe in my place so we can post something up on South of the Border after the fact, that would be really good. Otherwise I'm going tio have to cobble together stuff from internet babblings.
I'm posting the contest of President Nick Maikousis' email below, because not every member seems to receive emails.
Monday August 12th, 2019
As we near the end of the 2019 NPL Victoria season, I want to take this opportunity to update you on some key issues at our club. Subsequently, I will be holding a members-only forum in our social club on Thursday 15th August starting at 7pm. We will be scheduling regular quarterly member forums so that we can better communicate with our members.
SMFC is a proud and decorated club in Australian football, with four National League titles, ten State League titles and numerous other honours throughout the last 60 years. However, the hard work has only just begun as we begin setting ourselves up for the next phase in the Australian football landscape.
As part of this, it is the vision of the board and our fan base to aim at restoring our reputation as a major football club in Australia and broader Asia. By doing so, we will always aim to be playing at the highest levels of the game in this country. As such, we believe that we are currently undertaking important steps to make this happen.
The club has performed exceptionally in the digital space over a long time by growing our online channels and fan base through mediums such as social media. However, we must build on this and aim at increasing our supporter and member base to ensure that every game SMFC participates in can be seen as a fixture of interest.
We are also well aware that on-field performances at both senior and junior level need to improve. With this in mind, the Football Department is making positive steps towards this objective. Non-performance is simply not part of the SMFC DNA and is something that we cannot accept.
The board’s 2019 immediate focus was predominantly to generate additional revenue to assist with reducing club debt and to complete a comprehensive board restructure, which includes implementing a robust marketing and football department. With additional resources and an increase in our volunteer numbers, we envisage that our social club debt will be fully settled by the end of next year. We strongly believe that all these changes and plans will enable us to move forward at lightning speed.
The 2020/2021 season will bring new challenges, encompassing changes to our game with a new NPL structure and the introduction of a new National League. We are committed to embracing these huge changes to our game and are planning to work closely with the AAFC, Football Victoria and Football Federation Australia to ensure that we are able to hit the ground running in these competitions.
Finally, I wish to thank you, the South family, for your continued support in what has been a tough year. We have always been proud of being a members-based club and we will remain as such moving into this new era. The Board and Directors of this club are here to represent the membership and we assure you that we will continue to reflect the views outlined by our members.
An overview of what work has been done at the club can be found below. I look forward to seeing you all at the membership forum on Thursday and during our remaining two matches of the season.
Despite our inconsistent and at times frustrating performances during the 2019 season, we must take some positive moments away that could see vast improvements on the pitch for the 2020 season.
We are well aware that our senior team’s performance affects various parts of the business, including support in the stands, membership and the support of our corporate partners. As such, the performance of our senior team has historically been critical at our club and nothing has changed, not even in this era.
The club has appointed Andre Meyer to the role of Technical Director for next season. With the recent restructure and clear focus on resourcing the football department, we believe we will be ready to make an impact from the opening round in 2020.
It is also our aim to strengthen our young squad by actively targeting senior and experienced players to compliment the youth coming through our ranks.
Football Development and Restructured Youth Program
As announced late last year, Michael Valkanis took on the role of Football Ambassador. New Technical Director Andre Meyer will join Michael in driving our football development program in 2020.
One main focus is to build a strong and welcoming club culture across all our youth teams, whilst at the same time concentrating on the development of individuals as footballers. We have also added additional resources to our MiniRoos and Junior programs, including new community sides in line with the recent Football Victoria changes.
With added personnel, increases in volunteers and a new direction, we believe these changes will further assist our growth in this area.
The Baby Blues Program
Some thirty years ago under Brian Garvey, the club had a vision to develop its own youth players and have them experience success at senior level wearing the famous blue and white. We have begun implementing this very strategy this season and will continue doing so in 2020.
As such, it is our five-year vision to win a senior team championship with at least 60% home-grown players. In the past 18 months, ten players have been promoted from our Under 20s to play senior NPL football for our club. This includes the likes of Will Orford, Manny Aguek, Ben Djiba, Giuseppe and Giordano Marafioti, Zac Bates and George Gerondaras, whilst victorious Under 20s captain Giorgi Zarbos and goalkeepers Amir Jashari and Angelo Rigogiannis have been unused substitutes.
2019 has seen several changes within our senior women’s team. With numerous championship winning players either moving overseas or relocating interstate for opportunities in the Australian team setup, it left coach Mick Gallo and his staff with a relatively new and very young squad from the early stages of this season. It has resulted in a great opportunity to give many Under 19s youth players an opportunity to test themselves at senior level, as well as the squad to gain experience in a tough NPLW Victoria competition.
With just a few rounds remaining of the NPLW Victoria regular season, our senior women are still very much in contention for yet another finals appearance and we encourage as many of our supporters to attend their matches to support them in their quest for another championship.
Commerical & General has been the club’s Major Partner in 2019 as well as strategic supporters and a part of the Australian football fabric for over two decades. They are considered to be one of Australia’s leading property development and investment management organisations, boasting major projects across the country. We recently confirmed that Commercial & General has extended its relationship with the club as Major Partner for the next two seasons.
We are also excited to welcome Pelligra as a Principal Partner for the next two seasons, following Ross Pelligra’s full support during our A-League bid last year.
It is the aim of the Board and Commercial Operations to grow our corporate base in 2020, including a focus on a return on investment in being associated with SMFC’s strong brand. Our focus on growing and servicing our corporate base is integral in the growth of the club, so we urge all our members and supporters to support the organisations that support our club.
Finally, we are working towards building long-term passive income streams.
60th Year Club Anniversary
We proudly celebrate our 60th year anniversary this year. As we all know, in 1959 the Hellenic and Yarra Park clubs merged to form Hellas Soccer Club and a further merger with South Melbourne United formed South Melbourne Hellas. Since then, our club has gone from strength to strength and evolved into the modern-day South Melbourne Football Club.
Over six decades, we have been at forefront of Australian football and have experienced some incredible and glorious moments. Another consistency throughout our 60 years has been the involvement of volunteers and committed individuals that have driven the passion of our club. Along with the high expectations of our large and passionate fanbase, the existence of volunteers has been a key to our long-term success.
As a sign of respect and gratitude to all that have helped the club since 1959, we will be recognising and celebrating our anniversary in numerous ways. We have already introduced a heritage anniversary logo created and implemented across club marketing, digital mediums and selected merchandise. We thank our media team for all their hard work in creating this for us.
We will celebrate our 60th anniversary milestone at numerous events, including at our final game of the NPL Victoria season on Sunday 25 August against Heidelberg United at Lakeside Stadium (kick-off at 3pm). We have invited former players, coaches and officials to join us that day as we farewell the 2019 season and begin looking forward towards 2020. I would love to see as many people from all six decades of our club attend Lakeside Stadium in what promises to be a memorable occasion.
Back to Back NSL Grand Final Reunion
We will also be recognising the 20-year anniversary of our amazing back-to-back National League Championship teams.
We will be hosting a special reunion event later in the year at Lakeside Stadium, where we will welcome all players, coaches, staff and key volunteers that were involved in that special achievement. Details are currently being finalised and will be released closer to the day.
Board Restructure and Update
There has been significant change at board level, with Ross Pelligra, Dennis Durant and Erik Zimmerman joining the board in the past month. They join Peter Kokotis and Tass Roufos, who both joined the board at the last Annual General Meeting, as fresh faces in the new structure.
Each one of the new additions have joined to strengthen specific areas of our club, including our Commercial and Strategy Sub-Committees.
We have also taken the strategic initiative to form an Executive Leadership Team for the Youth Development Program and welcome those new members and volunteers to the SMFC family.
National Second Division “The Championship”
In the past twelve months, we undertook a great deal of work regarding the strategic development and business planning as part of the A-League bid. Whilst the result didn’t go our way, the planning undertaken in that particular phase has strengthened the club off the pitch and has positioned us well for the implementation of the Championship.
We have also continued to work hard behind the scenes to ensure that we are ready to participate in this newly formed league. Whilst we were the only operating football club to reach the final stages of the recent A-League expansion process, we are in no way assuming that a place in the Championship will be handed to us.
Subsequently, we will continue to be involved with the formulation and structure of the Championship via our unequivocal support of the AAFC. For those unaware, the AAFC is playing a hugely critical role with numerous federations and other key stakeholders to make this concept work for Australian Football. We would like to congratulate our former long-standing Chairman Nick Galatas in his recent appointment as new AAFC Chairman.
Recently, I attended an open meeting with FFA Chairman Chris Nikou, who was fully supportive of a more conventional football system which included the introduction of the Championship.
Like many other clubs, we are of the view that this has been a significant step forward for Australian Football and support the broader views of the football community regarding this change.
All clubs will be provided with a simple set of guidelines moving forward with the removal of the NCIP, but it remains critical that no other community is offended, insulted or discriminated.
Personally, I envisage little change in terms of the operations of our club position and branding.
From a club perspective, most understand our long and rich heritage and they certainly understand the strong ties between South Melbourne and the huge Greek Community throughout the nation.
The reality is that that it has been three decades since we have actively used the Hellas brand in our daily operations and at this stage we are not looking to make any sudden changes to the club’s identity. However, we must also remember that we’re a members-based club and the views of the membership will be heard and ultimately determine our destiny.
Yours in football,