A letter to Wanderers members from Chairman Paul Lederer.
As we begin the New Year, I am excited by the opportunity we have in front of us for 2019 and beyond. What we as a club have worked for over the past three seasons will become a reality with the opening next month of our new training facility and administration headquarters in Blacktown and later this year the opening of our new stadium in Parramatta.
As a club we know full well the responsibility we have to our community and rest assured, we will be the leading football club in this country once again.
The $30m investment we have made into the Wanderers Centre of Football is a significant one that will be a game changer for our club. Mark my words, my fellow board members and I have ensured that our future is set on a solid foundation of infrastructure and planning. Nine pitches, a training and administration headquarters and gymnasium is just the first step in our plans for the Western Sydney Wanderers footprint in Blacktown. Supported by Blacktown City Council we are ensuring that this investment is for the future - our next generations of male and female players.
In the last year alone we have seen 11 players progress through our Academy to join the first team squad with many making their Wanderers debut including Nicholas Suman, Tass Mourdoukoutas, Tate Russell, Marc Tokich and Matthieu Cordier and Kosta Grozos in the FFA Cup. The pathway is set for these players with the reality of their progression coming to fruition.
Ensuring that our Academy players could play fee free is another example of the focus we have on the investment in this club.
While we have an enormous opportunity ahead of us to not only help develop the next generation of footballers from Western Sydney, we are also keenly focused on the challenge of our current circumstances.
Being Wanderers, for the past three seasons in the truest sense, has created some hardship for our club – the members and fans that are so integral to the club have had to endure this most noticeably. Many changes have had to be managed and borne by all involved, but the payoff will be immense. A new world-class stadium in the heart of Parramatta is an incredible prize to secure and this has been done through sacrifice and resolve.
As a passionate football fan for over 70 years I have witnessed difficult moments time and time again. Seasons of apprehension, seasons of adjustment and seasons of complete euphoria. This is the curse of the football fan and one I am happy to bear as the rewards always overshadow the difficulties along the way.
But to all of the Wanderers members and fans I will say this – we have not taken our eye off the prize.
At the start of this season we met with over 14 potential international coaches across Europe. We met these men face-to-face and from these meetings Markus Babbel, a world-renowned player and coach, shone out as the man to lead this club forward. Aided by an excellent backroom staff including Jean-Paul de Marigny and an impressive strength and conditioning coach, Marcelo Martins (former Bayern Munich and USA national team), we have a coaching group that is more than capable and will take our team forward this year.
Along with an outstanding coaching staff, with the best training facilities we will attract quality players, with our new stadium we will recreate our fortress – our return to Wanderland. With our Academy we will create the club, and our hope, the national team players of the future and we will ensure our coaching staff has every opportunity at every level to learn, develop and grow.
These plans are in place, this work has been admirably executed by our management team and staff. Western Sydney football people through-and-through who fight and advocate for this club at every turn in any forum.
From my discussions with members, fans and my management team I understand and acknowledge the difficulties we have had along the way. The past two seasons have been below the standard we have set for this club and we all share every loss, every misstep, like a stab to the heart.
We are focused on our squad development and see the light at the end of the tunnel that this team will continue to build to reflect the passion and will to succeed that all of our members, fans, staff – our club – has inside each and every one of them.
It is my absolute belief that what we are doing will create a future that will reaffirm your loyalty to this club and the promise that was made at its foundation, to be the club that truly represents the people and football culture of Western Sydney.
Now is the time to regroup and to fight. As a club we must come together and drive forward with purpose and belief.
The hard work on-and-off the pitch will continue, we trust that your support will too.
Western Sydney Wanderers FC