Oakleigh Cannons well-placed to build on its competitive foundations

The Oakleigh Cannons are a club who are a staple of the top tier of Victorian football.

The Cannons have competed in the Victorian National Premier League consecutively for the past 17 years, gaining promotion when they lifted the State League One Championship in 2003.

Since then, the senior men’s team have won one minor premiership in 2006, however have fallen to three grand final defeats in 2011, 2012 and 2016.

After eight games this season, the club currently sits in fifth place in NPL Victoria and are well placed to once again be up there at season’s end.

General Manager at Oakleigh, Aki Ionnas, believes the club can finally break their grand final hoodoo this year.

“I do believe that we can win it,” he told Soccerscene.

“Chris Taylor has put a very good squad together; all the boys are fantastic. We’re confident these boys can take us all the way.”

If it eventuates it will be a great reward for the club, based on the events of the past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Like any other club, it was obviously hard,” Ionnas said.

“For players, kids, juniors, the committee…it was a hard season with no football.

“Kids are used to going to training and playing soccer, your supporters, your sponsors, your members are used to going down to the club, and before you know it, you’re at home in a lockdown.

“So, it was very hard mentally for a lot of people.”

The club was established in 1972 and currently plays its home games at Jack Edwards Reserve, a facility which seems like a perfect setup for a club who plays in the top level in Victoria.

The venue has a capacity of 4,000-5,000 people with upgrades over the years continuing to lift the overall standard of the facility.

“About six years ago our facilities got upgraded with a brand-new synthetic ground as well as a junior pavilion. That was done all through hard work from our chairman Kon Kavalakis, who was responsible in liaising with council and other key parties to get these facilities.

“We’ve recently had a state-of-the art scoreboard that’s gone up last year and started using it this year.

“There’s always work going into the improvement of facilities. Even though the synthetic ground was done six years, we’ve resurfaced it again only a year and a half ago to reach top FIFA standards.”

Ionnas revealed that the club was in the progress of talking to council in regards to further developing the ground, something that the AAFC partner club sees as a priority in the future.

Oakleigh’s General Manager is relatively confident that the club is ready to take the next step and enter a national second division when it eventuates.

“Look, it all depends once we see the final model that it’s financially viable,” he said.

“If it’s financially viable, then yes.

“It all depends on what the model is going to look like and what it’s going to cost. Speaking to a lot of clubs, that’s what they are all waiting for.

“We are an ambitious club, we would always like to compete at the highest level, we’ve got very good sponsors, very good backers, a very strong board who are all business minded and great infrastructure which we will eventually develop further.”

According to Ionnas, the strong affiliation the club has with the local Greek community has positively impacted the fortunes and finances of the club over their history.

“We’ve got very strong support obviously in the Greek community,” he said.

“We’ve had strong support for a long, long time. We’ve had a major supporter in Delphi Bank who has been our sponsor for 15 years I believe. It’s a massive thing for that to happen continuously.”

Ionnas hopes the club continues to be consistently competitive in the near future, across all aspects of the sport.

“Obviously, we want the club to be a strong club irrespective where it is playing, we want to be up there both on and off the park.

“Our chairman and president Stan Papayianneris have done enormous work, each in their own way, to get the club to where it is now. Oakleigh should remain a strong club because it’s got enormous support away from the field.

“We can’t thank everyone enough for supporting the club.”

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Philip Panas is a sports journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy and industry matters, drawing on his knowledge and passion of the game.

Football Australia bolsters leadership with key new appointments

Football Australia has confirmed the appointments of Briana Harvey as General Manager of the Women’s National Teams and David Mason for the role of General Manager of the Men’s National Teams.

These strategic appointments are part of Football Australia’s ongoing efforts to strengthen and enhance the leadership and management of its national teams, ensuring both the women’s and men’s programs benefit from experienced and dedicated leadership.

Harvey has an extensive background in sports management, having held key roles at prominent organizations such as Hockey Victoria, the Australian Football League, Hawthorn Football Club, and, most recently, at the GWS GIANTS Football Club. Her diverse experience across these major sporting bodies highlights her expertise and leadership capabilities in the field.

Mason’s deep involvement with Australian football stretches back to 1998. Throughout his career, he has held numerous management positions in media and communications, football operations, and club administration at Northern Spirit, Parramatta Power, Sydney FC, and Football Australia.

His extensive experience across these diverse roles has equipped him with a comprehensive understanding of the sport’s landscape, making him a valuable asset in his new role.

For the last seven years, Mason has served as CEO of Manly Warringah Football Association and Manly United FC, one of Australia’s largest football associations. Returning to Football Australia, Mason brings with him a vast reservoir of knowledge in local, regional, and global football.

His experience is complemented by a deep familiarity with Australia’s National Football Teams, positioning him to make significant contributions in his new role.

Beginning on August 12, both Harvey and Mason will take charge of the strategic, operational, and administrative aspects of Football Australia’s Men’s and Women’s National Teams. Their responsibilities will include planning and managing budgets, as well as coordinating overall annual match schedules.

In their roles, they will ensure that all logistical and operational needs are met, driving the success and efficiency of the national teams’ programs.

Their leadership will be pivotal in shaping the future of Australian football on both the national and international stages.

Head of National Teams Gary Moretti expressed his excitement of the designation via press release.

“We are delighted to have secured the services of both Briana and David who as individuals and collectively bring a wealth of industry knowledge to Football Australia,” he said.

“Briana has a strong corporate pedigree with extensive experience within elite level sport. Her background and passion for women’s sport will be an invaluable asset to our National Teams both now and in the future.

“David is a football person and has contributed to the sport at all levels for almost three decades. In addition to his strong football acumen, David brings significant business and operational experience from his highly successful tenure as a CEO within the football industry.

“Along with Andrew McKenzie (General Manager – High Performance), the appointments of Briana and David will strengthen the management and future prospects of our National Teams as we look to create an elite performance and operational environment featuring a world’s best-practice focus.”

CEO of Football Australia James Johnson added how their experience and wealth of knowledge will ensure operation excellence via press release.

“The appointments of Briana and David are strategic moves that align with our vision to enhance the performance and success of our National Teams. Their combined experience and leadership will play a crucial role in ensuring operational excellence, so we remain competitive on the global stage and continue to inspire the next generation of football talent in Australia.”

Football Australia – National Teams Senior Management

Head of National Teams: Gary Moretti
General Manager – Women’s National Teams: Briana Harvey (commencing 12 August)
General Manager – Men’s National Teams: David Mason (commencing 12 August)
General Manager – High Performance: Andrew McKenzie (commenced 10 July)
General Manager – Football Analysis, Data and Insights (to be appointed)

The creation of four new leadership positions within the National Teams underscores Football Australia’s commitment and investment in its Senior and Youth National Teams, as outlined in the XI Principles for the future of Australian Football. Every position plays a critical role in advancing, overseeing, and ensuring the sustained success of all High Performance and National Team programs and initiatives.

Football South Australia extend collaboration with SAASL

Football South Australia and the South Australian Amateur Soccer League (SAASL) have extended their collaboration, strengthening their cooperation in developing football in the state.

There was a meeting held recently where key representatives from both organisations discussed ways to continue their growth of the game in the state at all levels.

Since the partnership began in 2018, the two parties have made a meaningful impact in the South Australian football community.

Several key initiatives have been launched through this collaboration which include:

Referee Development: Football SA’s Referees Department is now responsible for assigning match officials for all SAASL games. In 2024, the strategic emphasis by Football SA and SAASL on referees has led to a notable improvement in match official coverage for Senior Divisions in both Saturday and Sunday leagues.

Officiating Initiatives: Football SA has introduced various initiatives to recruit new referees and support young officials, such as State Championships and specialised mentorship programs. Meanwhile, SAASL is actively working on strategies to enhance their Club Referee program, offering a clear pathway for both new and returning referees.

Respect Campaign: The Armband Campaign to protect young referees has been successfully launched. Embraced by clubs, participants, and the football community, the bright orange armbands worn by referees under 18 serve as a clear reminder that these officials are minors.

Venue Support: ServiceFM Stadium has been the venue for major SAASL events, offering a professional environment for amateur league matches.

Streamlined Registration: SAASL players will keep registering via a consistent Player Registration System, which enhances administrative efficiency and ensures the integrity of player registrations.

Shared Competition Management System: Offering uniform and efficient Competition Management Processes across all competitions, enhancing efficiency for clubs, referees, and association administrators.

Enhanced Player Protection: SAASL players are covered by the National Insurance Scheme, which offers essential protection for clubs, administrators, volunteers, and participants.

Michael Carter, CEO of Football SA spoke very highly of the partnership and its effects on the game in SA.

“This extension represents more than just a renewal of our agreement,” he said in a statement.

“It’s a testament to the evolving and strengthening relationship between Football SA and SAASL. We’re working closer together than ever before, and the results speak for themselves.”

George Fotopoulos, President of SAASL and SAASL Board members and Executive Officer Darcy Evan shared a similar sentiment about the excitement of this continued long-term partnership.

“We are pleased to continue our partnership with Football SA. Our ongoing affiliation has seen a significant improvement in our Referee coverage in 2024, that is due to the collaboration and hard work of both the Football SA and the SAASL administration teams. We look forward to further opportunities the partnership will provide,” SAASL confirmed in a statement.

Overall, this partnership enhances the infrastructure, safety, and quality of football in South Australia, encouraging greater participation for players, coaches and referees which is helping the sport thrive at all levels.

Amateur and grassroots football success is the core to any good footballing foundation and this prosperous partnership continuing is a brilliant result.

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