Naum Sekulovski might be in the twilight of his playing career, but he won’t be finishing up with football or his beloved Preston Lions anytime soon.
The former Perth Glory star has taken on the role of Sponsorship Manager for the 2021 season.
Preston has always been a club that has enjoyed enormous support from its community and its playing members.
The chants of “Ma-ke-don-ia” on game day bring goosebumps to all in attendance at BT Connor Reserve.
Even whilst playing at the relative depths of State League 1 for this former National Soccer League heavyweight, Preston has been able to rely on the incredible support of its fans who vote with their feet year in, year out.
However, it is the ability of the club to mobilise the support of the business network within its community that is truly impressive.
In recent years, the Preston Lions committee has enjoyed enormous success in mobilising the support of the business community within its ranks, signing on an extraordinary amount of sponsors a trend that has well and truly continued into 2021.
“At the top end of this year, back end of 2020, [Preston Lions President] Zak [Gruevski] approached me about taking on the role of Sponsorship Manager,” Sekulovski said.
“I’m coming to the twilight of my career as a player, so I’ve always wanted to understand how I can get more involved behind the scenes.
“I’m always going to have that football attachment and I’m interested in the business side of running a football club, so I jumped on board.”
Outside of football, Sekulovski works in pharmaceutical sales, meaning he felt he had a skillset that would allow him to hit the ground running in the role.
A cursory glance at the club’s social media feed over the last few months would demonstrate that Preston’s support goes far beyond boots on terraces and that Sekulovski has certainly gotten off to a fast start.
Since taking on the role, the Preston mainstay said he has been blown away by the business support afforded to the Lions.
“It’s been a really big eye-opener for me and one that I’ve really tried to translate over to the players and the people at a junior level,” he said.
“To be honest, the level of support has been a bit overwhelming.
“At last count, we’ve ticked over 100 sponsors for the year. We’re in a really, privileged position, but we’re here because of the hard work of all the people that have been on the committee over the last few years.”
Preston has kicked off its own “Preston in Business” program of business events for sponsors and is providing corporate hospitality on gameday, which started with a historic night of football at BT Connor Reserve when the club took on Melbourne City in it’s season opening match of the NPL3 Vic season, attracting a bumper crowd on the night.
The club saw another massive turnout last Friday night for their NPL3 Vic clash with Melbourne Victory, showing the Round 1 turnout was no flash in the pan.
“To have that many businesses and invited guests attend our first President’s Club function for 2021, it just made sense to have a program like “Preston In Business” that we could use to help those sponsors engage with and leverage off one another.
“We’ve got so many diverse businesses in our group.”
Following 2019’s State League 1-winning season, not even the loss of the 2020 year could slow Preston down.
“I think success breeds success,” Sekulovski said.
“And it’s not just about the men’s program. We are striving to get to the heights of Victorian football at all levels and we are firmly in the frame of mind that when a national second division presents itself, we want to be a part of that discussion.
“We’re a united front across our men’s, women’s and junior programs and everything is coming together.”
Facilities have also been a major agenda item for the club and redevelopment of BT Connor Reserve, which has been aided by the City of Darebin Council, as well as the generous donation of money and services from the Preston business community has been crucial to the club’s drive forward.
“I think we’re really only just scratching the surface of what’s possible in terms of our partnership with Council and Government,” he said.
“The administration of the club has been working so hard over the last six or seven years and it’s thanks to a passionate group of volunteers which makes the progress we’ve made extraordinary.
“To see that pay off with the night we had against Melbourne City and our new partnership with them, it was incredible.
“I grew up watching Preston. That Friday night I left the sponsorship stand to go and see some of the game with the rank and file and sitting there with so many people in the industrial back streets of Reservoir at our first official night game was something special.”
Preston remains on the lookout for businesses looking to support their charge forward.
Image Credit: Preston Lions Football Club