The Melbourne Kazzie Club, operated by the Kastellorizian Association of Victoria, is a staple institution for Greeks of Melbourne. Yet, if not for the actions of current KAV President Nik Spartels, this historic institution may have ceased to exist.
Prior to Nik’s election as President, the previous committee had proposed to sell the Kazzie Club building, due to it requiring “millions of dollars” to be renovated for maintenance.
“That didn’t go down too well with a lot of people and I was sort of selected to be the chosen one to stop that from happening,” Nik said to The Greek Herald.
“I’m a builder myself, a developer, and I got my boys to come in and we did it for a minute amount.”
Nik expressed his happiness over the current condition of the historic building, who said it’s now looking “amazing”. The President also revealed the inclusion of a new tenant, Body Fit, which is supplying a stable income “for the next ten years.”
“So the place is back to where it should be, it’s flying,” Nik said.
“It’s probably the best it has ever been, but that’s because I’ve had good people behind me.
“My committee has been amazing and a lot of the members have stuck by me.”
With a new committee made up of majority younger members, Nik said the success of the club is largely due to the great cooperation between committee members.
“Just the diversity of the people, they bring different professions into the committee and it’s just worked, which is why I couldn’t imagine having such a good bunch of people on my committee.”
Nik Spartels is the third generation of Presidents in his family and has been coming to the club since he was a “little boy”. His grandfather, Nicholas-Michael Spartels, was President in 1945 and 1949, while his father, Michael Spartels, held the role of President through majority of the 90s, for approximately ten years.
The long line of history with the club has allowed him to develop a deep fondness with not only the committee and the building, but the entire Kastellorizian community in Melbourne.
“I’m looking at the doors that lead to the street and I’m thinking how many good people have come through these doors the last 50 years,” Nik said proudly.
“The Kazzies are beautiful people and I love how my grandparents came out here in the early 1900’s.”
Losing notable Kastellorizian elders in the past few years, Nik says the front doors and building represent the Kastellorizians entry into Australian history, and honour the incredible lives and sacrifices of those people.
“This club was put together by all our forefathers that left their families who were struggling during the war, they came here and formed a club so they can help themselves because they were outcasts back then.”
“This club, to me, has grown from those people that formed the club, who helped each other survive in a different country and were friendly to each other.”
Nik added that he owed it to his grandparents to keep the club alive for years to come, saying it was up to him to “not let that tradition go.”
The Kastellorizian Association of Victoria held multiple events prior to the COVID-19 pandemic in an attempt to get younger people more involved with the club. During lockdown, the association managed to hold “Kazzie Connect” events to keep the community engaged and active.
Nik emphasised the importance of “keeping the tradition alive” as the next generations of Kazzies grow older, saying the most important mission of all Greek communities in Australia is to “not lose their identity.”
“I’m just hoping that once the younger generations go over there (Kastellorizo) and fall in love with the island, they’ll get more involved in this club. And that’s why we want to keep this place going,” Nik concluded.