In what has been a tough 12 months for businesses across the state due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Football Victoria (FV) will look to recharge the business community through their annual FV Community in Business (CIB) program.
Football Victoria will also be celebrating the five-year anniversary of CIB in 2021, a program which was the brainchild of current FV Head of Commercial Anthony Grima and prominent business identity Professor Greg Stamboulidis.
FV’s Community in Business network was established after extensive research was conducted in 2014 on sponsorship data. At the time around 2,000 businesses invested commercially into grassroots community football in Victoria, with significant financial contributions made to over 350 clubs in the state.
Grima further explained to Soccerscene the origins of Football Victoria’s Community in Business program.
“It was created to provide a platform for businesses, football clubs and their sponsors, media and all levels of government to unite in their shared passion for the world game,” he said.
“It really was born out of one of those ‘write on the napkin’ type moments over a coffee in Ivanhoe. The idea just grew legs from that very moment. It seemed right and we knew the grassroots game needed it.
“We knew that this shared passion would lead to the development of meaningful relationships between the vast range of stakeholders in football and provide them with affordable and effective opportunities to connect with one another for mutual benefits and returns; and at the same time achieve important outcomes for football in Victoria.”
The membership-based program had its launch event in late November 2015, on the back of the Socceroos Asian Cup success earlier in that year.
“We were thankful to have the then Socceroos Head Coach Ange Postecoglou and Socceroos legend Josip Skoko, amongst others, to launch the new community initiative,” Grima said.
“Approximately 100 guests of the Victorian football community were invited to help us launch the new initiative. The event was hosted by George Donikian, who we are also very grateful to, being our inaugural MC and first Honorary Member.
Since then, the Community in Business brand has continued to grow exponentially, with over 100 businesses in any given year signing up as members to fund the program.
A major drawcard of these events are the special guests who attend the multiple functions across the year.
“Our feature guests continue to reflect the ethos of supporting every level of the game,” Grima said.
“We make sure that we are always celebrating Victoria’s football achievements, by unifying the achievements of football past, present and future in this country and the diversity of our great game.”
Guests from over the years include Harry Kewell, Graham Arnold, Craig Johnston, Archie Thompson, John Aloisi, Lisa De Vanna, Melissa Barbieri, Tony Vidmar, Paul Wade, Craig Foster, Les Murray and many more.
Other notable events over the course gave members the opportunity to meet former Manchester United and Liverpool players such as Wes Brown, Louis Saha, David James, Emile Heskey and Steve McManaman.
Occasions such as this couldn’t be possible without the assistance of event organisers, who the federation works alongside.
“A big thanks must go to the team at MSE Events,” Grima said.
“The events are very thoughtfully considered and planned, as much as possible, around special events where the celebration doesn’t end at the luncheons.
“For example, when Brazil and Argentina were in town, we gave all our members free tickets to these matches.”
Grima believes that without the support from clubs, businesses and the football community as a whole, the program wouldn’t be where it Is today.
“I am personally proud of how far the program has come,” he said.
“It is called Community in Business because it is a network that is owned and valued by the community. We are all in the business of making this community great. Together we can achieve more for our game, unified as friends in football.
“Community in Business continues to demonstrate how business and community can work together to achieve extraordinary outcomes for our game.”
More information on Football Victoria’s Community in Business program can be found here.