It was a tear-jerking moment as one of this state’s most dedicated and passionate Football Administrators, long-serving Northern Suburbs Football Association (NSFA)’s Competitions Manager Damian Miles called it a day from full-time employment last week.
The well admired 59-year-old staunch Northern Tigers, Sydney FC and Liverpool supporter made the tough decision as one of the leading Association’s most decorated administrators to concentrate on his health after recently being diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease.
“My illness has led to retirement from full-time employment, but I have agreed to help consolidate the Association’s history. Otherwise, it is time to concentrate on my health and to raise awareness of MND.”
In Miles’ honour, the NSFA recently dedicated a ‘Fight MND Competition Round’ as well as a ‘Fight MND Juggling Competition’, such is the respect they have for this gentleman that has significantly contributed to local football within the Northern Suburbs of Sydney and throughout NSW.
“I was totally humbled by the support and kind words I received. I have been inundated with offers of help, from people I have known for many years and those I have known for only a relatively short time. The Board and my colleagues have also been a tremendous support for me.
“The Board has instigated Round 12 as Fight MND round in my honour and this will become an annual event.”
Born in Sydney’s South of the suburb of Carlton, Miles instantly fell in love with the round ball game as a footballer before turning his attentions to refereeing before throwing his hat in as a volunteer and administrator of our game.
“I started playing in 1969 with St George Police Boys in the St George Football Association. In 1974 I joined St Leo’s in the KDSA competition. In 1975 I did the referee’s course and in 1977 I stopped playing and became a full-time referee.”
2021 marked a special anniversary for Miles as he embarked on 40 years since his first administrators’ job namely in the sport he has continued to love and support.
“That’s correct, as an administrator this season marks 40 years since my first admin job and 32 years of continuous involvement in admin.
“My first role was as an area supervisor of junior referees for KDSRA in 1981.
“In 1989 I joined the KDSRA Management Committee as Assistant Secretary.
“A 3-year stint as Senior Vice President led to 5-years as KDSRA President.
“In 1999 I joined the KDSA Management Committee as P.D. & D.C. Chair.
“Along the way I experienced the best 7 years of my life as manager of Northern Tigers Men’s First Grade.”
His role as the NSFA’s leading Competitions Manager came in interesting circumstances and it was all thanks to former Association General Manager Gary Foster who offered Miles the position.
“In 2006 I was driving cabs, but had some financial trouble. The General Manager at the time Gary Foster offered me some part time work to help me get back on my feet.
“At the end of 2006, a new Management Committee was elected, and a new General Manager was appointed in January 2007 and my hours increased and I stopped cab driving.
“In May 2007 I was given full time employment and had worked in that role ever since.”
Miles’ involvement with the sport has been enormous.
He has seen many changes evolve and develop for the better in the NSFA region as well as reaching wonderful achievements but this all came with a number of challenges during his tenure.
“When I first started, the Association operated out of the garage of Rod Woods and family in Turramurra. As I leave, we now have 12 full time employees and operate out of commercial premises in Pymble.
“Demographically, our ethnic mix has reflected wider society. When I started there was a Greek club, a Croatian club and a couple of Armenian clubs, as well as a large number of British and Irish ex-pats.
“Today, only the Croatian club survives but we now see substantial Asian, South American, Sub-Continental, South African and Middle East communities joining the European communities in our NSFA family.
“I also saw a number of achievements whilst working at the Association.
“I am proud of my contribution during my refereeing career and my Life Memberships of NSFA and KDFRA. As an administrator I am proud of my work in building our disciplinary system, compiling all of our history, rewriting the competition regulations, and starting the Competitions Department with my colleague Jodi Sparks. I also worked on the SSF (now MiniRoos) rules, many of which were adopted by Football Australia.
“Since I started, we have reintroduced female-only football and over-age competitions which have led to a significant increase in participation. Such innovations as Diamond League, Super League, XLR8 and INSPIRE have greatly raised the quality of football in NSFA.
“There were of course many challenges,” Miles told Football NSW.
“Learning to construct competition draws given the numerous limitations was a major challenge which took me a season or two to get on top of. Consolidating the Association’s history and rewriting regulations were also significant challenges.
“As an Association the challenges were reversing the effect of private school sport on our numbers and reversing the loss of female players. Every year we attract a large number of new female but lose a similar number.”
Both Northern Suburbs President Ian Plant and CEO Edward Ferguson held nothing but praise for Miles’ rich contribution to the sport.
“Damian Miles has been at the heart of football in the Northern Suburbs FA for many years, participating and serving as a player, referee, and administrator since he the age of 12,” said Plant.
“He was recognised as a life member by both the KDFRA and the NSFA for this long and valued service.
“His life membership to the NSFA came in 2008 and he has continued to work for the Association in the years since then.
“Damian has been at the centre of the professionalisation of football management in the northern suburbs, assisting football in this area to evolve into its current professional form. His knowledge of NSFA football is second to none and his understanding of the various clubs and grounds is positively encyclopaedic.
“He will be sorely missed by staff, club officials, players, and parents alike. He is highly respected by all those who have been fortunate enough to work with him, play with him or be advised by him,” ended Plant.
Ferguson echoed his President’s touching sentiments.
“Damian has been a long-serving NSFA staff member, however even before this time he was a valued member of our football community.
“As we all do, Damian first began playing the game before graduating to refereeing, managing Northern Tigers and earning life membership with both NSFA and KDFRA.
“He has changed the way football is played in the Northern Suburbs, building a foundation that has seen our association grow to 18,000+ players, 1,200 coaches and 400+ referees.
“Damian will always be the 12th man of NSFA and we cannot thank him enough for his commitment, passion and support for football.”
Finally, Football NSW CEO Stuart Hodge summed Miles’ impact to the sport as a “One of a kind administrator”.
“The entire football community owes Damian a debt of gratitude for his outstanding service over an extended period.”
“Damian’s achievements within the game was given due recognition through his life membership of NSFA and KDFRA.
“He has been an instrumental figure in transforming the sport and raising the level of professionalism. On behalf of the football family NSW we give Damian our best wishes.”