From the first day the Western Sydney Wanderers came into being, the club has led the way in innovation, foresight and a determination to make a difference in the landscape of Australian football.
Success came quickly with a Premier’s Plate in the first season back in 2012/13 followed shortly after by the historic and unforgettable victory in the Asian Champions League as the Wanderers became the first Australian club to take out the prestigious Asian tournament.
The Wanderers, however, have never been, and never will be, a club that will sit back and rest on its laurels as it seeks to continue to put its indelible mark on the sport in this country.
It is why the club has invested heavily in what is viewed as a game-changer with the opening of stage one of its Centre of Football in Blacktown which will house the club’s elite men’s, women’s and academy teams, Westfield W-League and Hyundai A-League designated change rooms, physiotherapy, state-of-the-art gymnasium, offices and media centre.
Once completed, the 11-hectare development, the product of the vision of the Wanderers ownership group, Paul Lederer, Glenn Duncan and Jefferson Cheng, Director David Slade and CEO John Tsatsimas, will include nine pitches, grandstands facing two pitches and a new academy facility and community offices complementing the current venue.
The development, which has had unprecedented support from Blacktown Council and, in particular, Mayor Stephen Bali, will be the envy of clubs in the Hyundai A-League and an eye-opener for all the other football codes across the country.
Few clubs can boast a facility of this magnitude.
So, what does it mean for the Wanderers and Australian football in general?
For the club, it will provide the absolute peak environment for the players to perform to their maximum in training and in games. As well, it will provide an incentive to attract the best players to the Red & Black. Who wouldn’t be happy to come to work every day in such a professional and elite environment?
Youth development, which has already had a huge impact at the club, will step up another notch with young players exposed to the sort of facilities usually associated with the big clubs in Europe.
The Centre of Football will also play a massive role in the broader Blacktown community through community programs which include but are not limited to:
- Male and female elite pathway development
- Female participation with a focus on body image; mental health; obesity and healthy eating;
- Programs for Seniors and the elderly;
- Migration settlement, activity and inclusion programs for CALD community across Western Sydney;
- Indigenous community engagement and participation activity and pathway opportunity;
- All-abilities football participation and activity;
- Host international teams and youth tournaments primarily using our football network across the Asian regional and other key markets.
The flow on effect of the Wanderers’ huge financial commitment to the Centre of Football can only help Australian football down the track as clubs, hopefully, are inspired by and look to emulate what is happening at the Wanderers and Blacktown.