Friday, July 26, 2024

Aussie football legend honoured by Sutherland council

The career of one of Australia’s most celebrated football figures, Graham Arnold, was celebrated today by Sutherland Shire Council with a local sportsground renamed in his honour.

Canberra Road Oval will now bear the name of one of Gwawley Bay Football Club’s favourite sons, standing as permanent tribute to the career and achievements of the Australian Football Hall of Famer.

The Socceroos coach was welcomed to the oval by former Socceroos teammates, scores of local footballers and football fans as well as family members and friends drawn from the course of a lengthy and accomplished career as both an Australian national player and coach.

Sutherland Shire Mayor, Carmelo Pesce, said he was delighted to officially rename the well-loved and well-used football oval in honour of Arnold – known affectionately as ‘Arnie’ to legions of football fans – with the event serving as a touching tribute to one of the Sutherland Shire’s most celebrated sporting exports.

“The Sutherland Shire always punches above it weight when it comes to producing world-beating sporting talent, but when it comes to the footballing talent that our community has produced over the years, there is no one who comes close to the stature of Graham Arnold,” Mayor Pesce said.

“We’re proud to honour Arnie’s legacy at Gwawley Bay Football Club where he first laced up the boots and developed his love for the game that he has since given so much to as both a player and coach.

“With 19,000 registered football players, the Sutherland Shire is home to Australia’s largest footballing association, owing in no small part to the inspiration that greats of the game like Arnie have provided to those who have followed in their footsteps.

“It’s important that our community honours the impact that our home-grown sporting talent has had on the global stage, and Arnie’s incredible achievements – particularly as coach of our national team – will no doubt serve as inspiration for local footballing talent for generations to come.

“It was wonderful to welcome Arnie back to Gwawley Bay today and provide so many local football fans and members of our community to wish him luck as he continues to drive our Socceroos towards qualification for their sixth straight World Cup and thank him for his immense contribution to Australian football.”

Speaking at today’s event, the Subway Socceroos’ Head Coach said the occasion was a special moment for his entire family.

“Firstly, I’d like to thank Sutherland Shire Council and Gwawley Bay Football Club for their involvement in this project and say what an honour it is for not just myself, but my entire family,” Mr Arnold said.

“This is a special place for the Arnolds – I’ve always said that Gwawley Bay Football Club was our second family – Mum and Dad were heavily involved with the club and many of the earliest memories of my childhood were here at this oval.

“This is where I grew up and developed my love for football, a place where I made lifelong friendships that have been so pivotal in both my playing and coaching career.

“To see a place so significant to my family now named after me is a little bit surreal. I know my parents – who both loved being part of this club – would be so proud.

“I’m very grateful to everyone involved in renaming this oval and look forward to young people from across the Sutherland Shire enjoying football here for many years to come,” he said.

Gwawley Bay Football Club President ,Janine McCrohon, paid tribute to the club’s most celebrated former player, saying that the values which remain pivotal to the success of the club were echoed in those that had been the hallmark of the many teams lead by Arnie throughout his successful career.

“Arnie’s teams are known for their unity, built on values of family, friendship, and brotherhood,” Ms McCrohon said.

“These ideals, instilled at the grassroots level here at Gwawley Bay, are a cornerstone of his success and continue to inspire the next generation of footballers.”

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