Blacktown City FC claimed the PS4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s 1 premiership on Sunday, but the celebrations were not limited to the First Grade team.
Remarkably, Blacktown are the Premiers in the Men’s 1, Grade 20s and Grade 18s, completing a hat-trick of Premierships and a Club Championship to boot.
For Giancarlo Maisano, it proved a fantastic end to a first year as Head of Football at the club, but the A-Licensed coach says this is just the beginning for Blacktown City.
“In terms of results, I don’t think I could have asked for a better season,” Maisano said.
“We’ve finished first in all the senior grades besides the under-16s who themselves were very unlucky not to make the semis today, so I’m very happy with the results.
“In terms of the first grade, I think Mark (Crittenden) has done a very good job, particularly given the loss of some very significant players last year, but he’s gone and recruited very well.
“The 20s have been together for a very long time, particularly the top-age boys, and they’ve done very well to come first, while the 18s are a quality outfit too.”
Maisano said the success of the first grade team was particularly sweet given the contribution of a number of the club’s former juniors, notably Patrick Antelmi, Zach Cairncross and Matt Lewis who have all returned to the clubs after pursuing careers in the game.
“It’s great to see guys like Antelmi here, because he’s a magnificent player that came up through our juniors,” Maisano said.
“He was unlucky at some big clubs like Leeds and Portsmouth overseas, but he’s come back and contributed to his junior club and that’s what we love to see.
“As a club, we want to create more Patrick Antelmis.”
Maisano said his role in the success was simply making sure coaches and players were happy and all teams within the club were pulling in the same direction, but as the years move on he would like to help the club create a more structured pathway from junior to senior football.
“Blacktown has a very proud tradition of success in terms of results and there have been plenty of good players involved in that, but now we’d like to go beyond that,” Maisano said.
“We want o have a clear development policy that comes through with even better coaching, more opportunities for players that come through the grades to the seniors and really looking to make this club as close to a professional one as we can.
“The introduction of A-League clubs into the NPL next season means that we have some competitors in that respect now, so we need to position ourselves as the best alternative to going directly to those A-League clubs who can offer professional opportunities.”
Maisano said as long as the current board continued to operate the way it has been, he was confident the success and implementation of a stronger development policy would continue to bring reward to the club.
“Blacktown City is a great club, with great people involved and, as an outsider coming into the club this year, I’ve been so happy with how the board interacts with everyone,” Maisano said.
“Like right now, the boys are in Lilys having dinner and we do that after every home game, regardless of the results.
“That’s a culture thing we want to continue to build on into the future.
“A strong board is very important in contributing to that and to building on that in the long term picture.”
– By Matthew Galea, National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s 1 Editor, at Lambert Park