What’s in a name? That was the question on everyone’s lips as the entity formerly known as
Team GWS held their launch at the Sydney Showgrounds on Tuesday night. A gala event,
attended by an impressive gathering of potential sponsors and supporters, gathered to be the
first to see the AFL’s newest club reveal their identity.
Since the club was announced, we’ve seen Kevin Sheedy brought on as coach. Players have
been signed. Blacktown as a training and admin venue has been built, and the Showgrounds as a
home game venue locked in. And now it was time for the new club’s identity to be unveiled.
The evening opened with Aboriginal dancing, a recognition that the Showgrounds is built on the
land of the Darug people. The national anthem was sung, and then AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou
emerged to address the crowd.
Demetriou spoke of the club, a long time in coming. The AFL competition had over 614,000
members, generates $3.4 billion in economic activity annually. But with two million people within
the 14 local government areas that forms GWS’s catchment area, it represented a major gap in
the AFL’s reach. Demetriou’s message continued that the AFL was in this for the long haul – the
AFL isn’t here for 2 years, 5 years or 10 years; their plans are for 20 years, 30 years, as long as it
takes. This is a long haul commitment.
GWS chair Tony Shepherd was next to take the stage. “Our goal is to build the best club in the
AFL.” Shepherd spoke of the gains that have been made already, of Blacktown built and the
Showgrounds redevelopment planned. Of over 50 sponsors signed, meeting nearly all of their
corporate targets. And to complete the corporate puzzle, Skoda had been signed up as the club’
s primary sponsor; the redeveloped Showgrounds to be known as Skoda Stadium.
After a break came the announcement we’d all been waiting for. As the lights were dimmed, the
words “This isn’t the birth of a football club, it’s a revolution” were put up on the screen. The
grey and orange lettering a hint of what was to come. And as the lights were switched back on,
standing on the stage in their colours were the Greater Western Sydney Giants.
Coach Kevin Sheedy was wearing the suit, with an orange tie. Next to Sheedy was marquee
signing Israel Folau. And joining Folau on stage were the other GWS players, wearing the two
possibly styles of jumpers. One was orange with a charcoal “G” monogram. The other orange
and charcoal with the monogram in white.
Kevin Sheedy, ever the visionary, was beaming with excitement about his new club. Showing the
club was an attractive venue, Sheedy pointed out that GWS was yet to join the draft and that
every player on stage with him had chosen to join the new club. Sheedy spoke about his passion
for football. “Footy gives you hope, footy gives you dreams. The Giants are about daring to
Finally, club CEO Dale Holmes took the microphone. “Think big. Live big. Play big.” The club has
lofty ambitions, and a plan in place to achieve them.
By now the membership and merchandise stand had opened. The club sold their first
memberships; and I will claim to be the first to sign up, the first member of the public to be a
member of the Giants. The first merchandise – caps, jumpers and T-shirts – were sold. No doubt
scarves, polo shirts and more will soon come on sale.
The road ahead has challenges. There are pitfalls, there are risks. There will be disappointments,
mistakes will be made. Western Sydney is hardly Aussie Rules heartland; and there are some nay-
sayers predicting doom.
But we do not do this because it is easy – if it was easy, it would have been done decades ago.
We do this because it is hard, but the potential rewards at the end make it worthwhile.
It’s a long term project, and like George Harrison with his mind set on you, it’s going to take a
whole lot of spending money and a whole lot of precious time. But the AFL has the time and
money to do it right.
So get on board, and enjoy the ride. Round 1 2012 will be here before you know it.
|GWS - A GIANT LEAP FOR THE AFL
|This article was originally published on The Roar.