Yarraville soccer club’s Glory-ous year

Yarraville Glory's under 16's girls side (supplied)

Harper Sercombe

Yarraville Glory soccer club has been nominated for the metropolitan club of the year in the 2023 Football Victoria Community Awards.

The club was nominated for its efforts in promoting soccer excellence and community involvement within the area while focusing on being inclusive, with a major focus of the club on its women’s and girl’s program.

Club secretary Nick Koutroumanis is part of the board who drove for the club’s rise back to relevancy.

“The club was in a pretty bad state in November, December last year, numbers were really dropping,” Koutroumanis said.

“We were losing teams, sponsors and had no real connection to the local community.

“So we got involved in Football Australia Club Changer Club Development Program… we put a structure around the goals and ambitions of the club.

“We wanted to drive equity and equality at the club.

“So it was really important to get increased female participation, and get them into a position where they had an advantage to give them representation.”

To help do this the club added female representation to its board, scrapped all fees for female participants, which amounted to about $40,000 worth of costs that the club covered.

The club also ran programs to help women trial soccer at Yarraville before making a formal commitment.

The club also ensured that its main pitch that in the past had been reserved for just men’s games and trainings was used equally between the teams, including kicking the men off the pitch for ‘prime time’ matches so the females could utilise the facilities.

There were a number of other initiatives the club embarked on throughout the year to help boost involvement from running clinics with disability groups, helping bolster indigenous participation, amongst other things.

“It’s been a massive change for the club, which has been great” Koutroumanis said.

“Numbers have gone through the roof for female participation and our overall numbers have gone through the roof but the female program is flying.”

The success of the club has been continually celebrated throughout the year, however there are three “crowning moments” that particularly stick out to Koutroumanis, the first being nominated for this award and making the final three.

“It’s amazing,” he said.

“Another one was prior to the women’s world cup, Football Australia asked us to talk to the member clubs at LaTrobe University.

“About our experience and what we were doing.”

Koutroumanis said at this talk he was able to deliver his message as to why this project means so much to him.

“My daughter plays at the club, I want her to build the lifelong friendships and love for the game that I have and I built at Yarraville,” he said.

“I want her to experience that, it’s not about her playing soccer, it’s about building that community and love and passion.”

The third and biggest ‘crowning moment’ in Koutroumanis’ eyes was being asked to be flag bearers for Canada as a part of the world cup.

“It was wonderful, an amazing experience,” he said.

The winner of the club of the year award will be released later in November, however with or without the award the club is committed on creating a more inclusive future at McIvor Reserve.