Soccer club moves to Docklands in coup for community sport
Competitive local soccer is on its way to Docklands, with junior and senior players encouraged to get involved.
A newly renamed soccer club, Docklands Athletic FC, has arrived in Docklands and is the new tenant at Ron Barassi Snr Park in a big announcement for local sport.
The club, until now based in Parkville and known as North Melbourne Athletic FC, negotiated a move to the picturesque Docklands playing fields and will largely absorb the existing Docklands Sports Club (DSC).
The move is seen as a win-win by both clubs.
For years North Melbourne AFC has wished to establish a junior program to provide a pathway to the club’s senior men’s and women’s teams, which play in Football Victoria competitions.
Conversely DSC, which formed in 2019 and boasts a core group of keen youngsters who take part in regular clinics, has been looking to expand and provide competitive fixtures at Ron Barassi Snr Park for their juniors to take part in.
The move allows both clubs to achieve this stated goal.
Docklands AFC already has eight qualified coaches and is keen to establish a strong community foothold in the area, which until now has not boasted a competitive sporting club.
“It’s super exciting,” president of the new Docklands AFC Matthew Tate said.
Mr Tate, a Docklands local himself, said the club had previously surveyed members about changing its name and location, which came back a resounding 86 votes to nil in support.
“They love it. They’ve been calling out for a number of years now for a change in facilities."
“The facilities we had at our old ground weren’t great at all.”
People within the club that are keen to push it forward are really excited about the junior program. We’ve got women’s teams, and some of them are super excited to come down and coach the kids.
He said the club had a choice to either start a junior program from scratch or look for an existing program to partner with, opting for the latter.
Outgoing DSC president Carina Parisella, one of the key drivers in establishing community sport in Docklands, was similarly positive about the announcement.
In a letter to members, DSC said the move would benefit all.
“Our goal from the beginning was to establish a sports and recreation hub for our beloved Docklands community – with our goal successfully achieved and a network of families and partners,” the letter read.
“It’s now time to mature the offering and opportunities for our neighbourhood and build a long-term pipeline of talent, and a legacy for Docklands … it’s been a long priority of ours to ensure kids can play all the way from junior training clinics to competitive games.”
“Our dear friends from North Melbourne Athletic Football Club will be taking the reins of our football [soccer] program and running an end-to-end football program from juniors all the way through to senior competition at our Docklands home, Ron Barassi Snr Park.”
DSC formed in 2019 and, despite wading through difficult periods during COIVD-19 as a fledgling club, has hosted a range of junior soccer, cricket, and Aussie Rules clinics during this time.
Under the guidance of Ms Parisella and a group of dedicated volunteers, the club brought together local families in often difficult periods.
“As I step away from my presidency role at the Docklands Sports Club after four fulfilling years, I reflect with immense pride on what we’ve accomplished,” she told Docklands News.
“Through the trials of the COVID pandemic, our dedication to the club and our community never wavered.”
“Passing the baton to our friends at Docklands Athletic fills me with excitement.”
“I’m not going far; I’ll stay actively engaged, ensuring that our focus on children’s wellbeing and our commitment to diversity and inclusion in sports continue to thrive.”
The DSC name is not completely gone, however, with junior cricket programs at Ron Barassi Snr Park to continue under the name.
Mr Tate said Docklands AFC was confident it could submit two “Miniroos” teams (small-sided games for five- to 11-year-olds) for the 2024 season and an under- 12 side either then or in 2025.
Its five-year plan includes a goal to have, by the end of 2027, a competitive U16 team.
“It’s not going to happen overnight – it’s a five to 10-year project, but that’s what’s most exciting about it.”
“Docklands has never had a proper competitive sporting team playing out of it, and now we’ve got seniors men’s and women teams here as well as the juniors. It’s great for the girls, too. About 25 to 30 per cent of the clinics have been attended by girls, so to have the senior women’s team, they can hang around and watch them play too.”
On-field volunteers won’t be an issue, either, because with the ambitious club’s eight coaches, and a ratio of one coach to 15 players, they can scale up past 100 juniors already.
In a social media post to members, the new club said: “We can confirm the rumours are true! Exciting times are upon us as we unveil a major transformation for our football team! We are proud to announce that we’re now Docklands AFC, waving goodbye to our North Melbourne legacy”.
Docklands AFC has hit the ground running, hosting a six-week clinic at Ron Barassi Snr Park, which started on October 29.
For more information email the club at the address below or visit its Facebook page for updates. •
For more information: [email protected]