By Bill Roumeliotis and Bill Papastergiadis
The Australian Football Association’s leading delegation was left more than impressed on Friday after their visit to Lakeside Stadium, where they not only watched South Melbourne FC’s game against Eastern Lions, but saw their modern facilities up close.
Both the President of Football Federation Australia, Chris Nikou, and the General Manager of the Federation, James Johnson, used their best words to express the professionalism of Hellas Melbourne and promised that soon the “blue and white” club will fight where it should be, and where it belongs.
South Melbourne FC President Mr Nick Maikousi said: “After 20 years we were delighted to host FA chairman Chris Nikou & CEO James Johnson at major corporate event at Lakeside last night. It is a glimpse of things to come in the Nation Second Devision.”
Andrew Mesourouni was delighted with the attendance of the elite hierarchy of football and pointed to the significant amount of work undertaken in recent times to build the football product as South Melbourne.
Bill Papastergiadis interviewed James Johnson and Kimon Taliadoros, President of Football Federation Victoria, at half time and he asked the question: “What are the 2 most important things you would like to achieve in your leadership roles”.
Interestingly, both responded with similar answers. James Johnson said “cohesion and integration are key elements. Brining together all the elements of football will ensure that the game will develop. Football’s multicultural past is important and it needs to be respected and South Melbourne is an important part of the history and story of football in Australia.”
James Johnson noted that the “National Second Division was something currently under consideration by the FA. South Melbourne could potentially be a part of any potential National Second Devision if it went ahead. it has supporters, stadium and is also doing impressive work in many other areas which are important for the fabric of a football club, such as the work South is doing in its women’s football, the blind football team and the disabled team.”
Bill Papastergiadis said: “Chris Nikou and James Johnson spent over 3 hours with us at the game. They enjoyed the match, the atmosphere and I feel they are excited about South Melbourne and what it could bring if a National Second Division was established.
“Chris and James were generous with their time and spoke to many supporters and sponsors. They seemed very interested in the South story and clearly felt comfortable. We hope this is the start of many discussions that lead to the establishment of a National Second Division. They are exciting times ahead for football in Australia.”