Ambitious Canterbury Districts Soccer Football Association side Abbotsford Juniors FC returned to the round ball game with a bang albeit it sporting its fresh new kit courtesy of Local FC’s and former A-League star Chad Gibson.
Impressed on what he saw from the club along with the blessing from President Adrian Timbs a year ago, Gibson not only worked on the new look and feel of the brand but also jumped on as a board member, player and coach.
Asked why he chose Abbotsford Juniors FC, Gibson knew it was an opportunity to continue on his legacy with the world game with young son Thierry the same way his father did with the 44-year-old during his time at the Belmore Eagles.
“My dad is the ‘OG’ ‘LOCAL LEGEND’ of CDFSA, playing 40 years at Belmore Eagles. That was my junior club where I basically grew up, and also where I played with my Dad for his final two seasons.
“As another CDFSA club, I knew people at AJFC and was super impressed by the club off the pitch.
“The people involved at the club, the commitment of our President, Adrian, the culture they strive to create and the genuine sense of community there all made me want to be a part of the club.
“We’re local, living only 10 minutes away so importantly, my boy Thierry aka Titi will join AJFC when he starts football.
“I wanted to create the same memories with him at AJFC that I had with my dad at Belmore.
“On-pitch competitiveness isn’t the final lesson, I want Titi to gain from football, so the values of community, respect and sportsmanship that sets AJFC apart will teach him so much more than he could at other clubs.”
It was there Gibson went to work and added the famous Local FC twist to the club’s new image as Brand Director.
“I’ve been able to collaborate with the club offering my services as a Brand Director as we’ve gone through a full redesign.
“Having not had a consistent brand identity since 1965, with a series of different icons and logos over the years, we wanted to create a design that alluded to history with a shield and put us in a contemporary space with a bold, graphic design with the AJ.
“The full logo features the ‘EST 1965’, always remembering where we started.
“The club has been really motivated to set themselves apart as a modern, inclusive grassroots club, so we changed our colours to blue with a neon volt yellow, acknowledging the importance of our young members.
“We wanted to create something that they would be proud to be a part of, and they look great on the pitch.”
What’s made the new brand even more appealing was the extra detail given to the club’s female teams, giving them a different look and feel from the male team’s at Abbotsford JFC.
What made this extra special though was the fact that Australia’s finest Matildas star Sam Kerr, a close friend of Gibson’s, played a crucial role in the detail of the female kit.
“We really cared about every detail of the jersey designs, treating this as we would a major professional club.
“Starting with the logo redesign. We ensured sponsors were represented well, specified every colour and placement on each kit, and created custom numbers for our club.
“We spent some time thinking about how to best show our girls and women how important they are to the club, so created a series of bespoke kits for them.
“We used an on-trend blush colour to elevate their kits that also feature the volt and sponsor colours.
“We went back and forth considering the feature colour for the girls but after consulting with Sam Kerr, we decided – no. Pink should be strong, there is no better place to see pink reclaimed as colour of strength than on the sporting field.
“We’ve loved how happy the girls have been to stand apart from the boys.”
It seems like the club’s spiritual home ground Campbell Park is a place to be but a new place of worship for Gibson who has continued on with his playing career and was delighted to have returned to the game after Community Football kicked off on July 1 following the ease of COVID-19 restrictions.
“It was great coming back once more. Our team is looking good. For us, it has been about creating an environment we felt was missing in adult football. We want to play good football, but more importantly, it’s about the bunch of lads we have been able to get together. More than good footballers, all of our team are good people.
“We started the reboot of the season on a high and got up 3-1 in the “Battle of the Bay” (Local Club Derby).
“It was a bit chaotic first day, putting up nets and ropes for the game, but it was so good to be back out there.
“That’s the thing with football – no matter what is going on in life, football is always a happy place. Having a beer after the game with the lads, banter flying, that’s what it’s all about.
“For me, the highlight was seeing everyone in their new kits, youngsters still in their jerseys late in the afternoon hours after finishing their games and supporters wearing our club merch.”
Club President Adrian Timbs was equally as excited he got to see his beloved Abbotsford Juniors FC’s 1140 players across 85 teams return to the game they love after the three-and-a-half-month hiatus.
“It was fantastic to see all our players back on the field.
“For many of the 60+ and under 6’s it was their first day playing organised football so that’s a thrill for players and parents alike.
“We hosted many away teams over the weekend and the general vibe across the parks was extremely positive. We had the added pleasure of seeing the majority of our players in the new club strip so that was also a proud moment.
“It was also a feeling of great relief, and then exhaustion after a weekend of constant buzzing. Parents and Players were overwhelmingly pleased to get the season underway.”
The club in consultation with Football NSW and Canterbury District Soccer Football Association, also assured they followed the strict ‘Return to Football and COVID-19’ guidelines ensuring the health and safety of each participant was on top of their priority list.
“In 2020, we have 1140 players across 85 teams, 70% Juniors & 30% senior players with a total female playing population of 28% and climbing.
“Our youngest player is 5 and our oldest is 72.
“It was important especially based on these numbers that we needed to implement a strict plan based around Football NSW and CDSFA Guidelines which we did.
“Pre-Season we implemented the COVID-19 plan and limited training and delayed our 100+ under 6’s and 7’s as we felt that the COVID-19 restrictions didn’t allow us to give them the up close personal attention that age group deserves.
“We are roping our large fields with more protection space for the technical areas keeping parents further away amongst many other things.”
Volunteers have been the pillar of strength for many Community football clubs across the state for years with Timbs paying special tribute to his dedicated crew at Abbotsford JFC.
“We have 160 registered Coaches and Managers giving up their time as volunteers and a hard-working committee of 10.
“Like all Grassroots clubs we are stretched weekly, but the volunteers we have are amazing and highly committed.
“This season we are ramping up our social media profile which we feel our members and sponsors deserve.
“We also have St John’s Ambulance staff all weekend at our home games delivering wonderful first aid to injured players.”
Ingrained in the beautiful world that is Football, Timbs has enjoyed every second of his time working in the game he loves at a club he dedicates his life to.
“I’ve been at the club in various capacities for approximately seven years, firstly as a parent then coach and player.
“I joined the committee five years ago as secretary and more recently as President now in my second year.
“I also volunteer on the Association senior grading committee.
“In my role, I get to work across all facets of the club, from dealing with stakeholders such as Council / CDSFA / Kit Suppliers to parents of new players and our sponsors.
“I consider it a great privilege to be involved at such a large and progressive grass roots club that is so entrenched in the local community.
“Football has provided me so many wonderful moments and great mates, and I hope there are many more to come.”