On February 18, a suspected arson attack ravaged a section of the St Kilda Celts’ Alma Park home – causing approximately $30,000 of damage to the club’s equipment.
St Kilda Celts President Daniel Edwards was the first to receive the news. It was a devastating blow for the Club, which was planning to operate Under-18s and Metropolitan teams in 2021, while reviewing its senior programs with ambitions to bounce back in 2022.
“We started in 2011 and made history by coming up the divisions and making it to State League 1 so quickly. Unfortunately, we couldn’t continue this year due to COVID-19 and the financial constraints it has caused,” Edwards said.
“Our plan was to go ahead with our Under-18s and Metropolitan teams this year, while taking some time to find our bearings and come up with a new, sustainable business structure to re-launch our senior programs”
The blaze has decimated the Club’s ability to provide for their football programs. The losses include essentials for training such as balls, cones and nets but also memorabilia, trophies and approximately $10,000 of brand-new club kits for the upcoming season.
“The kits hadn’t even been worn yet. No one personally stores anything for us, everything that the club owns was locked up in those rooms,” Edwards added.
A silver lining to emerge from the senseless arson attack has been the response of the local football family. As often is the case in times of need, football unites people in a way few other platforms can.
After receiving news of the incident, FV Club Ambassador Greg Hurvitz leveraged his strong relationship with Clubs in the metropolitan south and south eastern suburbs to seek emergency relief for the Celts.
Glen Eira SC were swift to offer assistance, with President Sam Curran-Nicholls organising the delivery of balls, cones and bibs to help the Celts get back to training (pictured in feature image).
“Glen Eira provided us loads of stuff. We were able to hold a training last week for the Under-18s, so we haven’t missed a step so far,” Edwards said.
Supaturf, the official pitch line marking supplier of Football Victoria (FV) also stepped up to offer support, generously contributing $1,000 that FV used to buy balls and equipment for the Celts.
FV CEO, Kimon Taliadoros was pleased to see the support from Supaturf and Glen Eira SC, stating the assistance will help to relieve some of the pressure on the Club's leadership team.
"It's a fantastic act of generosity and shows the level of spirit and unity within the football community," Taliadoros said.
With the equipment allowing the players to get back to training, Edwards and the Club’s committee are now working tirelessly to try and stabilise things off the park.
He says as the matter is currently investigated as a criminal offence, he is working the local council to determine whether there is any financial aid available.
So far, he has identified a potential opportunity in the form of the Emergency Sporting Equipment Grant Program. The program can provide up to $2,000 for community clubs to replace essential equipment in the event of events such theft or criminal damage.
While the grant would provide some temporary relief, it’s a small portion of the overall losses suffered by the club.
“I think the major two things we still need though are more match balls and to find kits for our players. The season is only a month away - and given our supplier is based overseas we don’t know if we can get kits in time, assuming we can even afford them,” Edwards said.
If your Club can assist with recovery efforts or provide support, please contact Greg Hurvitz at Greg.Hurvitz@footballvictoria.com.au.