COVID-19 was not going to put a dampener on Granville District Soccer Football Association’s 120 year celebrations with Community Football recommencing from the 1st of July putting a huge smile on Noel Dona’s face.
Dona, a GDSFA Director for the last four years, stated to Football NSW it was touch and go initially, but thankfully the Football Gods came to the rescue, allowing restrictions to be eased with the Grassroots game getting the green light to kick off from early July.
“The GDSFA is the oldest Football Association in Australia and the oldest amateur Football Association in the Southern Hemisphere.
“We were formed in 1900, which makes us older than the Commonwealth of Australia which was federated on 1 January 1901.
“When they first started kicking a round ball around in Granville, we were still just a colony.
“This year we turn 120 and we were fearful that COVID-19 would rob us of the opportunity to celebrate this very special anniversary, so recommencing the season is a big relief for us on so many levels.
“The Board of Directors together with our front office team have certainly put in the hours to condense so much in the past few weeks to give our members the opportunity to play a meaningful competition football for this season.
“Special mention to the efforts of our new General Manger Scott Sadler who has been thrown into the deep end but has hit the ground running by keeping our members up to date with all the necessary communiques surrounding COVID-19 and has been a very accessible conduit of information from between our governing bodies and our members.”
Dona was impressed with how well many of the GDSFA clubs have complied with the ‘Football NSW Return to Football’ guidelines ensuring participants their safety was paramount first and foremost along with having fun playing the best sport in the world.
“From all reports our clubs have joined the wider community vigilant efforts and stuck to the guidelines very well but of course now the real challenge is to continue the great work. I am confident our members, and indeed the greater football community will do the same.”
One huge plus along with the 120-year celebrations for the association was the recent announcement that Australia’s oldest Cup competition, the Cottam Cup, was also set to go ahead, much to the delight of Dona.
“The Cottam Cup is a very special story in itself, so to hear that the clubs who had entered prior to the lockdown still wanted to play the competition despite all the challenges, was more than just a relief, it was a real sense of pride for the history of the Cup and the growing significance this historic piece of silverware has on the football landscape.”
A football tragic, Dona has been involved with the world game for over 20 years, but its his passion with the Granville Waratah club that further lights the flame into his dedication for the sport.
“As a junior I played for the Granville Kewpies (established in 1919) but for the past 21 years I have been with the Granville Waratah club, the oldest club in Western Sydney (established in 1901). Last year I coached our All Age division 5 team to a grand final against the Granville Kewpies. It was a very special game because I believe it is the oldest soccer football Derby in Australia – exactly 100 years!
“To celebrate the occasion, I arranged for two former junior players from the 1930’s and 40’s, who were Socceroos in the 1950’s to attend the match and walk the players out to the centre and toss the coin.
“It was a very special and moving moment for all involved. We need more of these types of tributes and recognition of our heritage in our sport, they are nothing but good moments – And by the way, Granville Waratah won the Grand Final 2-1.”