Blacktown City announce Walker as their new Principal Partner

BCFC

Blacktown City FC have announced a long-term partnership with the Walker Corporation to be their Principal Partner for the club’s National Premier League Men’s and Women’s sides.

Blacktown, the defending NPL NSW Men’s Champions, confirmed the partnership at their season launch for the upcoming NPL NSW season. Significantly, the club has reaffirmed that its new partnership with Walker stems from an alignment of philosophies and ambition to create a sporting icon for the city it represents.

“The Walker attitude of seeing an opportunity where others simply see a challenge, is the same vision we have to build on the reputation, history and culture Blacktown City FC has developed over our 70-year history,” Blacktown City FC Executive Chairman Bob Turner said.

“We could not ask for a better partner to support our future growth. The commitment of Walker to Western Sydney will not only stimulate the city of Blacktown, but their community spirit will lead to Blacktown City FC utilising its players and coaches to establish a free schools development programme with a goal to spread the Blacktown City FC word and find the next Matilda or Socceroo.”

Walker Corporation Executive Chairman, Lang Walker, expressed that his team is proud to continue its strong support for Western Sydney and its communities.

“Sport unites communities and that passion and drive from Blacktown City FC and its fans to be the best, aligns with what we stand for at Walker,” he said.

“Our goal is to help Western Sydney flourish with great communities and workplaces and to do that properly, it’s vital to invest in cultural, education and health outcomes across the region.”

At their season launch, Blacktown City FC also outlined their partnership with the new owners of Blacktown City Sports Centre, Momento Hospitality. CEO of Momento, Marcello Colosimo, has wasted little time since acquiring Lily’s Function Centre and Blacktown City FC’s home late last year. Renovations began immediately to revamp the facility to ‘The Star Hotel and Event Centre’. The Star will become the home for post-game celebrations and events for Blacktown City FC.

“We are excited to revamp both the function centre and stadium and with Blacktown City FC we have an ideal partner to profile both organisations,” stated Marcello Colosimo.

“Our philosophy is also to give back to the community and together we have developed a ‘Grass Roots Training Programme’ to provide first class training for those not fortunate enough to participate in NPL or SAP football. The goal is to identify potential talent and offer scholarships to the proven Blacktown breeding ground through Momento.”

In a further announcement, Momento has allowed Blacktown City FC to seek a naming rights partner for their home ground. Blacktown City FC and Momento confirmed that Landen Property Group has agreed to a long-term commitment for ‘Landen Stadium’.

With a portfolio of work across the state, Landen currently has three major projects in Blacktown. Sharing a similar philosophy to Walker and Momento to build and give back to a community, Landen Director, Rashed Panabig, said the company was honoured by the opportunity to contribute to the future of Blacktown City FC.

“Our culture and business are built around a shared vision to make a meaningful, positive change to the communities we serve, and we are delighted to have this chance to support this great sport and the people who love it.

“Blacktown is one of the most progressive areas of Sydney, and we’re excited to be part of its future.”

Blacktown City FC’s first home game for the 2023 season is Sunday, February 5 in a Grand Final replay against Manly – game time is 5pm. The Women commence their second season at the senior level at home on Sunday, March 12th against Marconi.

“We are delighted to be able to announce three main partnerships prior to the opening round of the 2023 season,” Turner said.

“Walker, Momento Hospitality, and Landen Property Group provide, not only financial support for Blacktown City FC, but the credibility three mainstream business groups offer to the wider corporate community to get on Board.”

George Katsakis: Back in his element

George Katsakis’ 38-year coaching resume places him as one of NPL Victoria’s all-time greats.

From his playing career into the early stages of his coaching where he worked up the ranks at many clubs, there was always a passion for coaching at the highest level.

Of course, it’s his 18 years at Heidelberg United that cemented his legacy as one of the greats, where he won the 2017 NPL Victoria Men’s Coach of the Year award and spearheaded Heidelberg United’s golden era.

The golden era involved winning a coveted NPL Australian championship, a National Premier League title, a Charity Shield, a Dockerty Cup triumph in 2017 and securing a treble of NPL Victoria Premierships in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

In 2015, he led Heidelberg United to the FFA Cup Quarter Finals stage after a fairy tale run and managed to reach that same point two more times in 2017 and 2018. One of the most special cup moments for the Bergers was the 2017 FFA Cup run and the famous 1-0 win against Perth Glory at Olympic Village in the Round of 32.

In an interview with Soccerscene, Katsakis discusses his fantastic start at Bentleigh Greens, his philosophy on player development, the future of coaching in Australia and the attributes he had to become such a successful coach.

You joined Bentleigh Greens in March – it was a shaky start, but you have settled the ship. What brought you back to coaching through Bentleigh Greens?

Katsakis: This is my 38th year in coaching at all levels so first and foremost, I was missing it. I know it was only a short break, but I suppose what really inspired me to get back into it was the chain of events and the way I was released from Heidelberg that really made me think about where I am in football and where I need to be.

Obviously, I’m always aspiring to be at the top level but with Bentleigh Greens, I know the history of the club, I know their achievements over the last decade if not more and had some great teams, some great coaches.

After their phone call, they were convincing to me that they were looking to get promoted and back to the top flight, and I thought it was a no brainer. It inspired me to take a team that was struggling and hopefully steer the ship to a promotion or to a lot of improvement.

At the moment all we can say is that we’ve improved dramatically. Myself, the experience has come in and settled things that were not previously addressed earlier on and now obviously the results are flowing. It’s been a great transition for me.

In terms of player development, how do you go about that as a head coach? 

Katsakis: I think this is a great topic at the moment in Australian football. A lot of my emphasis at Heidelberg over the last 18 or so seasons was to try and introduce a pathway to players through the senior team but also paying a lot of attention to our u18 and u23 programs.

It was important to blend what I could foresee being the future of the club with the senior players, try and bring them in through that avenue and make sure they’re steered one by myself and my assistants and two and very importantly, by the senior players.

One of the fundamentals of kids developing is their environment and the people around them. If you have got the right group, as I did at Heidelberg for many years, there will be success.

I had a group who bought into our culture and accepted the fact that young kids were going to come through and help them through that development. There’s quite a few that I can possibly name that have taken the next level and next step.

Looking at the current coaching ecosystem, do you see players transitioning well into coaching and do you see coaching improving in the future?

Katsakis: It’s exciting because I now know of maybe 10 or more young aspiring coaches that are coming through. A classic example is certainly Andrew Cartanos, but I also have to mention the likes of Nick Marinos who’s taken the reigns at Port Melbourne, Luke Byles who’s become my assistant, Steven Pace is at Eltham Redbacks. So there’s quite a few coming through.

It’s great because they’re just added value, away from their coaching they can actually relive their football through those youngsters, and it makes them understand what it takes to make it at the top level.

After all the success at Heidelberg United, for any aspiring coaches, what were the attributes you had that made you so successful as a coach?

Katsakis: When I first got into coaching a very experienced coach from England said a couple of things to me that I took on board. The most important thing for me is to be humble and to understand that at any point in your coaching career, whether you’re a 20, 40 or 70 year old, you’ve got to be able to accept the fact that you’re going to learn every day.

Every day there is something new that you’re challenged with as a coach and accepting the fact that you keep learning until the day you retire, I think is very important.

We all learn from each other and generally in life as well as in football, we’re not born to know it all. Accepting that your philosophy, or someone else’s philosophy, or their techniques, or the way they coach, or their persona, whatever they bring to the table. If you can take a little bit from everyone’s leaf and add it to your booklet, it’s probably the most important part of coaching.

Leppington Lions pounce upon Local Sports Grant

Leppington Lions SC is a community-operated soccer club located in the southwest region of Sydney. Operating with the aim of showcasing football to youngsters, the club’s main demographic consists of emerging and established families within the Camden area of NSW.

As of 2024, the Lions are celebrating 40 years of operations, having been founded in 1984.

Boasting a series of sponsors who are pivotal within the club’s functionality, Leppington’s LJ Hooker real estate branch is the club’s primary sponsor.

Involved in the Southern Districts Soccer Federation Australia, the club exhibits versatility within their playing teams, with roots in grassroots football from under 5s.

The club has teams within a wide variety of age groups, with the over 35s women’s and men’s competition being the oldest.

Leppington Oval is the club’s home ground, situated on the western side of Sydney, and the club is a member of the Camden Council.

The Local Sports Grant program within NSW has benefited the state’s plethora of community clubs, providing financial opportunities to sporting entities across the state. The grant having the capacity to be dedicated to specific aspects of operations required.

According to the Local Sport Grant Program website, it was confirmed via the grant description brief that LLSC seeks to utilise the grant for the foundation of a community program.

Empower the community through our ‘Inclusive Soccer Community Program and Facility Equipment Upgrade. This project fosters inclusivity with diverse soccer teams, skill development clinics, and upgraded facilities.

“We aim to increase sports participation among women, people with disabilities, and culturally diverse communities, ensuring a vibrant and sustainable sporting future.”

Given the influx of participants, the club has embraced the residential development within the Camden area surrounding Leppington.

The recently awarded grant falls on the premise of the humble community club seeking to install community incentive programs.

These programs will ultimately provide a platform for the new influx of residents within the area to not only integrate within the community but also find their place within it through the unifying art form of the round ball game.

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