By Hayley Wildes
The Greater Dandenong Hockey Club has never been in a stronger position – on or off the field. And in what is the clubs 10 year anniversary season, it is all coming together for the Warriors.
When the Springvale Hockey Club and Dandenong Hockey Club’s merged 10 years ago to form what is now the Greater Dandenong Warriors, there were challenges. It is human nature to not want to let go of your club and the merge was met with some resistance.
That seems like a lifetime ago.
Mark Fernandez, Men’s Section, talks about the 10-year journey and getting the club right off-field in order to be competitive on-field.
“Off-field success for the last 10 years was all about trying to establish the identity. For the first few years, as you can imagine, you still have those different factions trying to hang onto their previous identity.” Fernandez said.
“It was trying to get people to think about us being the one new club, rather than Springvale or Dandenong.”
“If you asked me what kind of club the Greater Dandenong Warriors resembles, it is a family club. We’ve got grandfathers that play in our veteran’s side, fathers that play in our men’s side and sons that play in the junior sides. There’s that entire family focus for us.”
That identity and culture drove the Warriors to their best season in 2017.
“Last year was probably our most successful year on the park; we played in 8 grand finals across and secured four premierships.” Fernandez said.
“That really set us up for this year in targeting someone to take us to the next level – that being Matt Freeman.”
The appointment of Matt Freeman as Senior Men’s Coach, who boasts an impressive resume, has been huge for the club.
Freeman brings a wealth of experience and knowledge. He is a five-time premiership player with Waverley, two-time Best and Fairest winner in premiership years, boasts international experience in the UK and has been a member of the Australian Development Team.
Fernandez talks about what welcoming a coach of Freeman’s stature means to the club.
“It’s a massive, massive deal. Matt was a junior with one of our clubs [Springvale] about 20 years ago and he has played the last 20 years at the highest level.”
“Last year was his last season of Premier League Hockey and he wanted to explore the next stage of his hockey career being coaching and it’s a testament to his character to invest back in our club where it all started, and we were lucky enough to be able to entice him to come back and work with us.”
The diversity is what makes the Greater Dandenong Warriors the club it is today. Whilst members are from all walks of life and nationalities, there is also a program to support refugees within the community.
With about 250 members, the Greater Dandenong Warriors are still accepting new players for all sections across Juniors, Seniors (Men and Women) and Masters for the upcoming winter season, with no experience necessary.
For more information, contact the club via; firstname.lastname@example.org