South-east Melbourne supporters kick-off A-League bid

Excitement is brewing for soccer fans in south-east Melbourne as the region’s bid for national soccer teams was signed and celebrated yesterday in Dandenong.

The mayors of Cardinia Shire, City of Casey and Greater Dandenong signed a Memorandum of Understanding at Harmony Square yesterday afternoon, officially declaring their joint bid.

After the signing, a community event was held with a number of local clubs. The event was staged to promote interest in the bid and for members of the clubs to show their support.

The event included games, free food and an entertaining soccer skills display from Greater Dandenong Mayor Cr. Jim Memeti.

dandenong mayor - really truly edited
Dandenong mayor Cr. Jim Memeti shows the crowd how it’s done. Photo credit: Billy Spencer

Dandenong Thunder administrator Adem Tahiri admitted he was “quietly disappointed” with the crowd numbers, in part due to his club posting about the event to Facebook only 2 hours prior.

Casey Comets president Dawn Stone was pleased with the turnout, saying that most players were at training, which brought down the crowd numbers.

Despite the small crowd, Mr. Tahiri and Ms. Stone both said the support they’ve seen has been magnificent.

“Everybody is very, very, keen,” said Ms. Stone. “I think just the fact that we have several big, established clubs coming together … I think that shows just how much it’s needed.”

“There’s a wealth of population and talent in the area that’s not getting an opportunity.”

“It’s just that people love where they live, and to have a team to represent that would be quite something.”

Mr. Tahiri warned not to be too hasty. “We have the support, we have the culture, but what we need is money.”

“We’ll need to build a stadium, that will cost money … maintenance of the stadium, that will cost money; the day-to-day administration, that will cost money.”

“If we were approved tomorrow, this wouldn’t work.”

But before dealing with those problems, the bid will have to fend off competition from the likes of Geelong and South Melbourne, who are also bidding for the 11th Hyundai A-League team.

Vince Grella, a former Socceroo who made his start as a Springvale City junior, was officially announced as an ambassador for the south-east’s bid.

The three joint areas are also looking to establish sides in the W-League and the National Youth League.

To combat opposing bids, Ms. Stone said “we really want to focus on the diversity of the area, we reckon that’s a real strength of ours.”

Throughout the event, Harmony Square’s big screen proclaimed key selling points of the regions, such as that the three regions have over 150 nationalities and that Casey is the fastest-growing area in Victoria.

crowd - edited
Harmony Square was buzzing with conversation and inflatables. Photo credit: Billy Spencer

“This will really be a people-focused club,” said Mr. Tahiri. “We still need the money, but it’s the support of the people that will make this successful.”