Founded in 1991, Dunbar Rovers Football Club (DRFC) is now one of the leading soccer clubs in New South Wales (NSW). Known for its success in high-ranking competitions, its inclusive football program, and thriving business community, the Club has over 600 members spanning juniors, adults, and representative players aged 4 to 65+. We caught up with Commercial and Sponsorship Director Matt Delves to learn more about this unique and community-focused Club.
THE CRUX OF DUNBAR ROVERS FC?
To provide opportunities to footballers of all ages to fulfill their footballing potential, while fostering an inclusive community on and off the field.
YOUR PARTNERSHIP WITH HONAN COMMENCED IN 2010, BACK WHEN SOME OF THE CLUB’S CURRENT SENIOR PLAYERS WERE IN THE JUNIORS SIDE. HOW HAS DUNBAR ROVERS FC EVOLVED SINCE THEN?
Back in 2010, our teams were competing at community-level football and only in adult categories. Since then, we have expanded into Juniors at the community level and progressed to the State level in Men’s. On their first attempt in 2016, our Youth and Men’s teams were promoted to the National Premier Leagues (NPL).
We have set a new standard for semi-professional football clubs with our best-in-breed events that bring our business community and players together. We are so proud of our active and vibrant community.
HIT US WITH THE CLUB’S TOP 3 MILESTONES TO DATE.
- Making it into the top 5 clubs in NSW for winning the most titles at all levels since 2016 – 11 titles in NPL and in our Girls’ Conference League!
- Hosting the likes of Ange Postecoglou, Football Australia Chairman Chris Nikou, and Liverpool legend Craig Johnston at our Dunbar Rovers fundraiser lunches.
- Successfully bridging the jump from community to representative State football.
INNOVATIVE CULTURES AND A COMMITMENT TO ONGOING EVOLUTION ARE COMMON HALLMARKS OF SOME OF THE MOST SUCCESSFUL ORGANISATIONS TODAY. WHAT SETS THE DUNBAR ROVERS APART FROM OTHER SPORTING CLUBS?
- We were the first club to offer the opportunity for fee-free football in Australia. This initiative has enabled NPL players from all backgrounds to join our community and develop their game. It has also allowed us to strengthen our relationships with the wider football community, including Football Australia, Football NSW, and Sydney FC.
- We are an amateur club run in a professional way – evident from our events through to our Board that consists of professionals from a range of backgrounds.
- Fostering and connecting our football community with our business community; creating many opportunities for our members.
THE CLUB HAS A REPUTATION FOR BEING INCLUSIVE – WITH OPPORTUNITIES FOR LOWER-INCOME FAMILIES, WOMEN, MEN, THE YOUNG, AND THE YOUNG AT HEART! WHAT ROLE DOES DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION PLAY IN THE CONTINUED SUCCESS OF THE CLUB?
We strive to provide opportunities for players of all ages and backgrounds, holding open trials for players to test themselves. We have uncovered some incredibly talented players over the years, such as Ahmad Taleb, a migrant from Lebanon who had previously only played park football before coming to Australia. The Club provided Ahmad an opportunity and an ultimate pathway into professional sport. Ahmad made his First-Grade debut at the age of 15 years of age and has since been recruited by the legendary Marconi Stallions Football Club (NPL1).
MAINTAINING QUALITY CONNECTIONS WITH OUR PEOPLE, PARTNERS, AND THE COMMUNITY SITS AT THE HEART OF WHAT WE DO AT HONAN. WHAT RELATIONSHIPS & CONNECTIONS HAVE BEEN CRITICAL TO THE CLUB’S SUCCESS?
We are proud of our long-standing relationships with our partners like Honan who provide more than just financial support – they are deeply involved and connected with our community.
So much of the Club’s success is built on relationships through football but exist outside of it. One that stands out to me is a player who joined us in 2016 in the under 14s. His mother comes to all his games, and he is now playing First Grade at the age of 18. The Club has supported his family over the years, and they are a valued part of our community.
COVID-19 CONTINUES TO POSE SIGNIFICANT DISRUPTION FOR COMMUNITY SPORT. WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CHALLENGES YOU ARE CURRENTLY FACING AND HOW HAVE THE DUNBAR SPORTING AND BUSINESS COMMUNITY STAYED CONNECTED DURING THIS TIME?
Our major fundraising event in 2020 was cancelled, and our teams were off the field for many months. We scheduled regular Zoom meetings to stay connected and maintain engagement. A highlight was a session with football legend Craig Foster, which lifted spirits among the Club community.
Disruptions have continued into 2021, and we have now had to postpone our major fundraising lunch due to COVID restrictions in Sydney. From a Board perspective, we are proud to have navigated such a tough year but know we have a challenging time ahead. Partners have stayed with the Club, giving us the confidence to see through tough times on the horizon. We welcome any donations!
WHAT ARE YOU MOST EXCITED ABOUT FOR THE CLUB OVER THE NEXT 6-12 MONTHS?
- Opportunities for promotion in our Youth and our Men’s teams.
- Working towards securing our own home ground!
- Setting the Club up to reach its full potential over the coming five years, on and off the field.
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