Dear Victory family
Welcome to the 2023 / 2024 A-League Men’s and Women’s season.
As the newly appointed Chair of Melbourne Victory, I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce myself as well as give you an update on some of our important projects which the team has been working on in the off-season, as we now head into an exciting period for football.
But first, it would be remiss of me to not mention what an honour it is to be the Chairman of Melbourne Victory. I love what football represents, and can represent in Australia, and the opportunity we have, together, to grow the sport and bring a new dynamic, energetic and progressive outlook to Melbourne Victory.
I have been an independent Director for the past eight years and accountability, stability and growth is a key focus for me and will continue to be as we look to grow sustainably and responsibly.
I also have a passion for developing our youth and our women’s football programs.
Ultimately the Club and I want Melbourne Victory to be the Club that everyone aspires to be, or to be a part of and while we have some work to do before we can claim this title, we are on the right path.
As always, Club management and our football staff have been busy preparing for the upcoming A-Leagues seasons with our goal to bring trophies and success to Melbourne Victory.
Our Men’s team has strengthened with the addition of five new players to the squad for the upcoming season as well as the crucial re-signing of our newly appointed skipper, Roderick Miranda and the elevation of some of our Academy players like Franco Lino, Josh Inserra and Jordi Valadon.
There’s no doubt our finish in the A-League Men’s last season was something we were all incredibly disappointed with but at the same time, the core of the side that took us to within a whisker of the A-League Grand Final in 2022 is still here and we’re confident the group has taken a big step forward in being contenders for the Championship this season with a formidable team.
Our Women’s side has also taken important steps forward in signing nine new players as well as eight capped Matildas to the squad. As Jeff Hopkins and the team look to win their third Championship in four seasons, our A-League Women’s campaign under the leadership of Kayla Morrison is shaping up to provide for an exciting journey, following the success of the Women’s World Cup. A new training and playing base out at The Home of the Matildas at La Trobe University will no doubt provide the women with a further edge, and we look forward to seeing them this weekend.
Academy and Afghan Women’s
In 2023, our Academy sides had an incredible season through all age levels.
The NPL Under 23 side gained promotion into the second tier of Victorian football, we won the Premiership in the NPL U21’s and there were outstanding results in the Junior Boys NPL1, finishing as Champions in the Under 14s, 16s and 18’s and second in the U15’s competition with only one loss for the season.
The Afghan Women’s side has also continued its rise up the Victorian State Leagues system securing its second promotion in two seasons. Their story continues to amaze us, together with everyone involved in football in Australia and we’re proud to continue our commitment to supporting their return to football and their desire to represent their country in international competitions.
In other matters related to our Academy, we are focused on establishing a permanent home and also having our Women’s Academy teams compete in the Victorian competition. It has been a long journey so far, and we are ever so close to getting to the end of the journey we are on, and starting a new one, with our own infrastructure, a complete pathway for women, and a men’s and women’s home in place. With the help of all football stakeholders, we are confident we will get there as soon as we can.
As a Club, football will always be our priority, however it is important to Melbourne Victory that our vision extends beyond this and we use our platform to fulfil our vision to lead, unite, connect and inspire people through football.
With this in mind, extending on from our Community Strategy launched last year and the incredible halo effect of the Women’s World Cup, we have just launched our Female Development Fund.
This will see Melbourne Victory foster the next generation of female football leaders through funding female specific projects that run across all levels of football, in line with the Club’s key community priorities of participation, cultural diversity, gender equity and education.
The Fund will strengthen the Club’s female football pathways, provide educational opportunities for female coaches and administrators, broaden participation and community outreach programming and support female infrastructure and activation projects across the football ecosystem.
This is a great initiative and key to building momentum in the women’s game in Australia. We have also made entry into our games at The Home of The Matildas free of charge this year, to allow all our members and fans of football to instead, contribute more broadly to the game through our Fund.
Finally, I would like to acknowledge the appointment of two new members to the Board, Carl Valeri and Kerry Smith.
Carl, who I am sure most of you are aware of his accolades, brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the Board in both football and business with his pedigree at Melbourne Victory and in football being second to none. Kerry is also as an accomplished business leader having formerly been the CEO of PFD Foods (guiding it to a revenue of over $2.1bn per year), and a former director of both the Victorian Chamber of Commerce (VECCI) and LUCRF industry superannuation fund. Kerry is now also a Board member of PFD.
Kerry’s appointment has also, for the first time, seen Melbourne Victory meet the 40:40:20 gender equity principle.
Carl and Kerry will sit on the Board alongside myself, our 777 Partners representative, Don Dransfield, and our Managing Director, Caroline Carnegie, noting that four of our Board members are now independent appointments.
With only a few days before we commence the upcoming 2023/24 season, I want to assure you that we are working incredibly hard on and off the pitch and thank you again for your ongoing support. The foundation of our Club is our members and fans, and we need to Represent Together as we head into the new season.
We all know that the path to success is never easy, but adversity can galvanise a family, a team and a Club. It is time to look to the future, stand together, block out the noise and remember who we are and what we want to stand for.
When we stand as one, we will be unstoppable.
Melbourne Victory aspires to be the biggest football Club in the country and it is going to take all of us, from myself, my fellow directors, our coaches, players and staff as well as our members and fans to ensure we can make this aspiration a reality.
So, here’s to the season ahead – I can’t wait to share our success on and off the pitch – together.
I look forward to standing with you.
Melbourne Victory Football Club