The team behind the team

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Sydney University Football Club (SUFC) is one of the University of Sydney’s greatest legacies.

The oldest existing football club outside the British Isles, the “Birthplace” is home to a century-and-a-half of success: 24 club championships and over 120 premierships won since 1990, not to mention the nursery of 130 Australian rugby representatives. These successes are shared – imagined by those working behind the scenes and realised by those competing on the park. As the adage goes: behind every great sporting club is a team of great people.

Driven by a love of their sport and club community, volunteers, administrators and coaches are the heartbeat of sporting clubs across the country, certainly at the University of Sydney. Introducing six of SUFC’s off-field players: Joe-Horn Smith, Michael Hodge, David Haigh, Chris Delooze, Kirsty Stevens and Laura Romeo.

JOE HORN-SMITH

Your position 1st Grade Co-Head Coach & Club Forwards Coach

Best part about your role Developing players, watching them going on to be successful for Uni and going on to play professionally.

Best thing about your club Variety and diversity of the people involved in it. We have nine teams catering to all abilities, so you get everything from future internationals to social players.

Best thing about your sport Rugby is an international game characterised by its comradery and team spirit.

Best thing about working in sport The challenge of developing players and getting better at being a coach every day.

Biggest challenge in your role Player churn is the best and worst thing, we almost have to hit reset every year with our best players getting professionally contracted to Super Rugby or overseas clubs. It’s great to see them go on into professionalism, but for every player that goes we need to develop a new player to replace them.

Best club moment 2018 1st Grade grand final win. It was my first year coaching 1st Grade and the occasion was very special.

 

MICHAEL HODGE

Your position 1st Grade Co-Head Coach & Director of Rugby

Best part about your role The variety. Being able to work closely with SUFC staff and players, both on and off the field.

Best thing about your club The people and history around it. We’re so lucky to have so many great coaches, volunteers and supporters that contribute to our club’s success.

Best thing about your sport The rivalries. Playing in front of packed and vocal crowds each week shows the strength of club footy in NSW.

Best thing about working in sport The challenge and unpredictability of competition. So many different things must fall into place for you to succeed. And the growth and development that comes from failure.

Biggest challenge in your role All the moving pieces.

Best club moment The 2008 Colts Grand Final.

 

CHRIS DELOOZE

Your position Director of Women’s Rugby, Colts Co-ordinator & Junior Development

Best part about your role Without doubt the variety of the role. This year has allowed me to cover everything from High Performance, head coaching our first and newly introduced Second Grade women’s sides, to covering recruitment within both the male and female sectors, as well as building strong relationships with sponsors, junior clubs and schools.

Best thing about your club Shared community values. You could ask a supporter in the grandstand, players, volunteers or the club president what SUFC stands for and you will get very similar answers. The club has always had a very strong work ethic underpinned by the innate want and desire to be competitive and successful. This drive partnered with the loyalty shown by our current cohort is why many of our old boys and women will still be around the club for many years to come.

Best thing about your sport Rugby has many qualities as a sport, but it’s the comradery, mateship, and sense of community that surround not just your own club but the whole sport, globally.

Best thing about working in sport Having competed in many sports at all levels, working in sport was natural selection. I love the values and lessons learned in sport that carry over into our every day.

Biggest challenge in your role With variety comes challenge. Time management is the number one challenge without a doubt.

Best club moment 2019 2nd grade Grand Final v Easts.

 

DAVID HAIGH

Your position Executive General Manager

Best part about your role Providing the opportunity for young men and women to be the best they want to be in all aspects of life, whilst also helping them develop life skills and values.

Best thing about your club SUFC caters for all players, whether they be Wallabies or Wallaroos or just mates looking to play together. It is a unique environment, full of eclectic personalities all coming together for a common cause.

Best thing about your sport The best aspects of rugby are the character of those who are involved, in addition to the global appeal of the sport. Being a University club means we have a kinship to all University rugby clubs around the world. We are part of a global community, providing the opportunity to tour and host each other.

Best thing about working in sport The best part of working in sport is it is an industry that is overwhelmingly positive. Everyone chooses to be in the industry and wants to turn up every day.

Biggest challenge in your role Influencing change with the various governing bodies. At a time of great change and opportunity, rugby in Australia needs to be agile to move forward through the challenges we face.

Best club moment There are many premiership highlights from my playing and coaching days, however the last match of the regular rounds every year is when the Club Championship is decided – so all of those are pretty good memories

 

KIRSTY STEVENS

Your position Events & Marketing Manager

Best part about your role Getting to interact with so many different people, working closely

with the coaches, players, volunteers, sponsors, members, player families and the wider rugby community. I love seeing the smiles on people’s faces on game days or at a club event.

Best thing about your club The pride everyone involved with the Club has about wearing the blue and gold. With such a rich history, it’s seen as a privilege to wear the Uni jersey and no one takes that for granted.

Best thing about your sport It’s cliché I know, but Rugby is a game for everyone. It brings people together from all walks of life and all corners of the globe.

Best thing about working in sport Being in a team environment and riding the rollercoaster of emotions that comes with winning and losing. Luckily, I’ve experienced many more highs than lows in my time at the Club!

Biggest challenge in your role You never know what you’re going to face on a daily basis, no two days are the same and you are thrown a lot of curve balls. When I first started, I struggled with the scrutiny and hatred SUFC faces from our opposition clubs and their supporters, I’ve learnt over the years that’s what comes with being so successful.

Best club moment I have two! 1. 2019 Grand Final weekend. It’s special to have even one team make a Grand Final, but to have six teams competing in their finals and to bring home five premierships was a huge achievement for the Club. 2. Touring with the Club to Tokyo during the Rugby World Cup. Experiencing the cultures of Japan and immersing ourselves in World Cup fever was a once in a lifetime experience. It was topped off for me as SUFC went up against (and beat) my dad’s team, Oxford University Rugby Football Club in the World University Rugby Invitational Tournament.

 

LAURA ROMEO

Your position Match Day Co-ordinator & 4th Grade Team Manager

Best part about your role The skills I’ve been able to learn. I walked into SUFC a few years ago, never having worked in sport, only ever watching a handful of live rugby games, and from there, it has been one of the best and most rewarding learning opportunities I’ve had.

Best thing about your club Culture. Both players and staff are encouraged to work hard, enjoy what they are doing, and to always strive for success. Everyone who is part of the club works towards this mutual goal, and it brings out the best in everyone.

Best thing about your sport No matter where you are from, no matter what you do, no matter who you are, when you pull on the jersey, you are part of a team.

Best thing about working in sport The variety that comes with the job. No two days are ever the same, and there are constant opportunities to try something new, meet someone new, and learn from those around you.

Biggest challenge in your role Trying to do all the things I want to do in the role, with the time I have!

Best club moment Watching 4th Grade win a premiership at Bankwest Stadium in 2019. It was a great game in an epic stadium!

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