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It had felt a long time coming, but here we were in Wellington, New Zealand, moments away from kick off in our round 1 opener. Western United Football Club was about to be inaugurated into the A-League….

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It was an amazing feeling to be a part of. The general manager won’t admit this, but his eyes were very glassy indeed. So many highs and lows since the initial bid 3 years prior. And no less than a spectacular goal by our striker, Besart Berisha, to bring home the club’s first win. What a memorable evening it was.

There are so many ‘firsts’ when working with an expansion club. I’ll never forget that first goal scored, the first home win or the first time we sang the team song together. These are special moments. Agatha Christie knew the feeling when she said, “the first time you do a thing is always exciting”.

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There is plenty to look forward to with Western United Football Club. The club represents a growing population in Western Victoria. The population of Western Melbourne alone is fast approaching 1 million. Plans have been set for the fully soccer-owned stadium in Tarneit to be built by the club’s third A-League season, equipped with training pitches, sports medicine facilities and gymnasiums.

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Starting out with a new club certainly brings with it unique challenges. Compiling all of the medical equipment took planning and organisation from us as a medical team. Contributing to the development of a strong club culture is both challenging and rewarding. A book that I have found very helpful is James Kerr’s “Legacy”, which details the highly successful New Zealand All Blacks and the way in which they instil character, authenticity and sacrifice as the building blocks for club culture. Developing these traits has been a point of focus at Western United Football Club.

It has been a richly rewarding experience thus far to work with the A-League expansion team Western United Football Club as the Team Doctor. I’m sure there will be plenty more highs and lows, thrown in with some exciting “firsts”. Bravo Western United!!

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Dr. Anthony Hipsley

Ballarat OSM Sports and Exercise Medicine Registrar & Team Doctor for Western United Football Club

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