APIA LEICHHARDT TIGERS FOOTBALL CLUB
Mr JAMIE PARKER
(Balmain) [4.42 p.m.], by leave: I draw to the attention of the House a very important community sporting club in the electorate of Balmain. The APIA Leichhardt Tigers Football Club is based in Leichhardt, the heartland of Australian football. APIA Leichhardt Tigers is one of Australia's pioneer football clubs and was formed in 1954 in the suburb of Leichhardt. It is a club that has great presence and commands respect not only from our local community but also national and international communities. APIA Leichhardt Tigers is a multicultural club, and although it still reflects Leichhardt's Italian heritage it has included successful players, administrators, and a whole range of people from countries around the world.
APIA Leichhardt Tigers has been selected by Football New South Wales to represent the district and region at the highest level of football in New South Wales. APIA Leichhardt Tigers represents the inner west region at the New South Wales Premier League level, seniors and under 20s, and at representative Premier Youth League level in under eighteens, sixteens, fifteens, fourteens and thirteens. There is no other club in the region that has this role. APIA Leichhardt Tigers is a club of national significance, having produced the greatest number of Socceroos of any football club in the history of Australian soccer during its illustrious 57-year history. It has also had the most national team captains.
Some recent club achievements are the National Soccer League champions 1987 in which the club was undefeated for the entire season; the National Soccer League Youth League New South Wales championships in 1981 and 1989; the New South Wales Premier League championship 2003; the New South Wales Continental Tyres Cup, in which the club was runner-up in 2006; and the Johnny Warren Cup, in which the club was the winner in 2007. The APIA Leichhardt Tigers women's first grade team was crowned the 2011 Super League champions.
Lambert Park has been the Tigers' home ground since the club's inception. I am delighted that the New South Wales Government has made a commitment of over $2 million dollars to upgrade Lambert Park. Leichhardt council owns Lambert Park and for many decades the facility has provided the community with a fantastic sporting resource. I was very proud to have been involved in supporting the club as a councillor and Mayor of the Leichhardt Municipal Council. The club now has a 15-year lease for the site, which helps in securing its wonderful home ground for the future.
But the club and the beautiful game can only be as successful as the people who work in it. I pay particular tribute to Mr Anthony Raciti, the honorary president of the board of directors, who has been integral to the survival and success of this great club. He is a man with unswerving focus and commitment. Thank you, Tony—you should be incredibly proud of your achievements. I also commend the members of the board of directors: the vice-president, Tony Monticciollo; the treasurer, Paul Pettenon; the secretary, John Mellino; the directors, Tarek Madani, Terry Wilkinson, Vince Ciolino, Emanuele Ziino, and Jim Apostolovski. I have had a lot to do with Jim whom I met when I was mayor. He is a great advocate for the club. The other directors are Joe La Ianca, Joe Calabro, Sam Barletta, Frank Primerano, David Feller and Alex Kaltenegger.
I acknowledge all administration staff and players in all areas of the club, including the Premier League, Premier Youth League, the nursery cubs, the under six Tigers, the under seven Tigers, juniors, women's and girls' summer sixes, the New South Wales Women's and Girls' Super League and of course the Balmain Soccer Club Inc. in division 1 of the State League. I acknowledge the club's sponsors, in particular Wests Ashfield Leagues and the great Navarra Venues people at Le Montage. I thank them for the fantastic gala dinner held at Le Montage in Leichhardt.
Finally, I look forward to working with the club in the coming years to see Lambert Park upgraded, their financial future secured and, most importantly, the love for the game grow, not only in our community but throughout Australia. It is because of clubs such as APIA Leichhardt Tigers that we have such a fantastic sporting community that keeps our kids healthy and keeps people focused on a game that they can play not only in Australia but internationally. I was pleased to attend the gala dinner with over 600 people from the local community. It was an opportunity to talk about the beautiful game as well as to recognise the achievements of the players and administrators, the board and, in particular, Mr Tony Raciti.