Forty years ago in 1979, the Ashburton Baptist Church – as the Ashburton Redbacks – started with just one junior team entered into the Eastern Suburbs Churches Association. In the mid ’80s with a major increase in the number of junior soccer teams, the club started its first men’s senior team and briefly a women’s team. Around the same time the club introduced futsal at the Ashburton Pool & Recreation Centre, initially offering seniors, then juniors, an opportunity to play indoor football in one of the first competitions of its kind in the state.
Reflecting wider participation levels, the club changed its name to the Ashburton Soccer Club and joined the Victorian Soccer Federation for both junior and senior competitions. It also chose to play in the national colours – green and gold. With a focus on providing a supportive environment for all members of the community, the club expanded rapidly over the next decade, adding junior girls’ and senior women’s sections.
The senior women’s team was particularly successful, helping develop state and national representative players who propelled the club into the top division, where it stayed until the recent introduction of the National Premier League. Today, the club boasts over a thousand members, from the Mini-Roos right through to Ashburton Over 55s. Indeed, it’s not unusual for entire families to turn out for the ‘Greens’, with daughters and sons playing in the mornings, followed by mums and dads turning out for the senior teams in the afternoons. Reflecting the club’s growth, this year Ashburton is fielding 12 men’s and women’s senior teams, including four veteran squads. Of note, the men are currently enjoying a recent run of success, having been promoted after claiming the Football Federation of Victoria’s Division 4 South East Championship in 2018.
Despite the changes over the years, the one constant is the club’s philosophy of giving everyone in the local community the opportunity to play football in a friendly and nurturing environment. That philosophy is illustrated by the introduction of All Abilities Football Teams this year, which will offer yet another important group in the community an opportunity to learn and play football as part of one of the largest football clubs in Victoria. Given the growth of the club over the years, it’s not surprising that it is currently spread over six grounds. Finding enough space to cater for football in the local area remains a challenge, but this has been helped by Boroondara Council’s recent decision to create a football-focused facility at Dorothy Laver West Reserve, which Ashburton is slated to share with the Alamein Women’s Soccer Club.
Ashburton Soccer Club has enjoyed a remarkable journey over the past four decades and, to mark its anniversary, will hold a special Gala Event at the Hawthorn Arts Centre on Saturday, 20 July. The club is hoping that as many former players, supporters and committee members as possible will turn out for this major event to help celebrate this major milestone.
If you are interested in attending the Gala Event, email Lesley Gemmell at firstname.lastname@example.org – we’d love to see you there! Go Ashy!