The Greek Australian-led $2 billion sports and property project that aims to redefine Melbourne’s West

Western United's Chairman, Jason Zack Sourasis, reveals to Neos Kosmos how the power of sports paved the way for his family's integration into Australian society, inspiring one of his most ambitious and personal visions

A sports and property development project budgeted at nearly $2 billion is taking shape in Melbourne’s West.

Western Melbourne Group’s Chairman, Jason Zack Sourasis is the key figure leading the effort to build Australia’s first privately-owned sports stadium.

“We’re building a city underpinned by sport, health, wellness, education, and innovation,” said Sourasis to Neos Kosmos.

The site in Tarneit is already the home of A-League club Western United FC.

After five years of negotiations, Western United’s owner Western Melbourne Group (WMG) signed a contract with Wyndham City Council and paid its $10 million share for the first stage of their wider precinct.

This led to the construction of three soccer pitches and a 5,000-capacity rectangular stadium, enabling Western United to move in and play their first games.

“Our journey starts now.” Sourasis said.

Sourasis with his wife Angie and their two daughters, Sunday and Aria. Photo: Supplied

Sport helping migrant communities integrate into Australia’s society

The Greek Australian sportsperson views the project not just as a business investment, but as a homage to the role sports played in his family’s integration into Australian society.

“Sport is what helped my family and a lot of immigrant families unite into the Australian way of life, and it is a key ingredient that helps a community build, by creating unity and togetherness.”

He sees similarities with the challenges faced by new migrants arriving in places like Wyndham, striving for a better future for their families—much like his own parents and grandparents did.

“My grandparents and parents were very hard-working people; their sole focus was to establish a good life for our family in Australia.

Whilst they were at work, my cousins and I were playing every sport you could think of, which enabled us to form new friendships and kept us out of trouble, occupied, happy and healthy.”

From left to right. AFL footballers Scott Pendlebury, Western United’s first marquee player, Greek Australian Panagiotis Kone, and Greek Australian tenis player Thanasi Kokkinakis. Photo: Supplied

Embracing Greek heritage

Greeks love soccer.

Western United club reflects this enthusiasm with over 20% of its administration staff being Greek Australians, which includes Sourasis as the Executive Chairman and owner.

Their first international marquee player was Greek international Panagiotis Kone, along with a substantial Greek membership base.

Although Sourasis, openly embraces his Greek heritage now, he wasn’t always “so vocal and passionate about being a Greek Australian.”

“When I was younger, I probably didn’t appreciate being Greek as much as I do now nor did I understand how much of a passionate Greek I was.”

His parents even anglicised his name to Jason, partly fearing he would get picked on, as they thought Zacharias sounded “too ethnic.”

Jason’s parents Kerry, president of Kos Club Melbourne and Philip Sourasis. Photo: Instagram/jaszac

Coming full circle

Sourasis’s connection to his Greek heritage was sparked during visits to his parents birthplace, the island of Kos, a sentiment that came full circle during his return trips.

These yearly visits became opportunities to share the island’s beauty with loved ones and guests, including former Collingwood captain Scott Pendlebury and North Melbourne captains Jack Ziebell and Jy Simpkin.

“My love for the island is well known and it is definitely one of my main passions. I’ve definitely played my role of putting Kos on the map with Australians.”

Sourasis’ ties to Kos deepened in 2019 when he married his Greek American wife, Angie, and baptised their daughter Sunday in a church located at Kos’s picturesque village, Zia.

His love for the island has grown with time, motivating him to instil those values in his daughters, Sunday and Aria, just as his parents and grandparents did for him.

“When I go back to Kos, I reflect and appreciate my heritage and where my family is from. My grandparents left this paradise albeit at a time of instability, to give us a better life on the other side of the world, where they knew nobody and couldn’t speak the language.”

“I’m grateful for everything we have in life, but if it wasn’t for the sacrifices our grandparents and parents made, we wouldn’t have the luxuries and life that we are lucky to have today.”

Sourasis with friends at his father’s birthplace, the island of Kos. Photo: Instagram/jaszac

Turning Melbourne’s West into “a dense commercial vibrant city”

In a public-private partnership, the City of Wyndham granted Western Melbourne Group 150 acres of council-owned land in Tarneit.

Sourasis said the group has invested over $100 million to date and intend to build a 15,000-capacity rectangular stadium.

The state government has already approved Western Melbourne Group’s plan to build the multi-purpose precinct, with the goal of turning Tarneit into “a dense commercial vibrant city.”

It will include sports training facilities, an indoor sports arena, residential spaces with over 1,000 homes, as well as retail, medical, and health amenities.

Giorgos Karagounis (left) with Western Melbourne Group’s Chairman Jason Zack Sourasis. Photo: Supplied

The Wyndham City Council also approved a plan, marking the “first step” towards relocating the metro train station to a 600-metre walk away from the site in Tarneit.

“We’ll grow as the population around us grows and our sporting franchises will help create unity and a sense of geographic tribalism, driven by the pride and passion of where they live which then flows on to supporting ‘their local team’.”

Although the Club’s new Tarneit base is now surrounded by farmland, Sourasis imagines what the urban area, Oakbank, will look like in five to seven years.

“It could see over 120,000 people living within a 2-kilometre radius of where the main stadium will be.”

Sourasis was with Western United team in 2022 when they won the A-League. Photo: Supplied

Promoting health and wellness through the power of sports

Numerous athletes have invested in the project, including Greek Australian tennis player Thanasi Kokkinakis, AFL footballers like Scott Pendlebury, Jy Simpkin, Dyson Heppell, Josh Battle, Mason Wood, Melbourne Storm players Christian Welch and Ryan Papenhuyzen, as well as Australian Boomers Dante Exum, Chris Goulding and former AFL player and Indigenous ambassador Adam Goodes.

“It gives kids hope and aspiration to one day be like those athletes, and gives them the ability to use sports to stay out of trouble and live happier and healthier lives.”

Sourasis said the revenue generated from the residential and commercial land development will help finance the stadium and revitalise the city.

Sourasis (right) with one of Greece’s well-known soccer players, and former member of the UEFA Euro 2004 winning squad Giorgos Karagounis. Photo: Supplied

Beyond his role in WMG, Sourasis is also the principal of Jaszac Investments, a private company that invests in various assets worldwide, with sports being a highly valued sector.

He also owns Hemisphere Management, a company that has agents managing and advising over 120 AFL players among other athletes.

Sourasis said “athletes play an important role where they can use their profiles to help promote health and wellness,” aligning with Wyndham city’s vision of “a healthier, more inclusive, educated, passionate, and united community.”

He recently completed a reverse take-over of Toys-R-Us, a company listed on the ASX, where Jaszac Investments is now the largest shareholder.

After five years of negotiations, Western Melbourne Group (WMG) signed a contract with Wyndham City Council which
led to the construction of a 5,000-seat rectangular stadium, enabling Western United to move in and play their first games. Photo: Supplied

Investing in Australia’s fast growing area

Sourasis said population growth projections in Wyndham, which would house young families and a multicultural community, were “the main driver” for choosing this location.

“By 2041 Just the city of Wyndham is expected to have more than 500,000 people living within the city. That’s more than the population of Tasmania and more than the population of Canberra.”

He said the feedback from football supporters about the new 5,000 capacity stadium has been very positive so far.

“It’s a game changer…. This season, we were able to play 5 games in our home in Tarneit. The noise that it generated when we beat Macarthur was the loudest and best atmosphere we have ever had.”

The first stage of Wyndham’s development project, 5,000-capacity stadium, is now completed. Photo: Supplied

Overcoming obstacles

Western United’s Road to success was anything but smooth, especially with three of the club’s first four years overlapping with the pandemic.

“Whilst we were building a sporting franchise which now strongly represents the Northwest of Melbourne, we were also working on the planning approval for the whole site, which took us four years to have stamped.”

One valuable lesson WMG’s chairman learned from his parents and grandparents is that perseverance and hard work will eventually pay off.

Within just five years, the club evolved from a single team to 16 teams, offering pathways for both boys and girls to play in the national men’s and women’s A-League competition.

Sourasis’s daughters, Aria and Sunday, at the newly built 5,000-seat stadium in Tarneit. Photo: Supplied

Winning the A-League and becoming Australia’s champions in their third year, marked a “life-changing moment” in the club’s journey said Sourasis.

“Just as satisfying was proving all the doubters wrong by completing stage one of our precinct and moving into our own home in Tarneit.”

On top of that, the women’s team reached the finals two years in a row.

“We’ve grown so quickly as a sporting franchise and to have the success we’ve had in such a short period of time, is testament to the hard work and values of our whole organisation.”

Moving forward, the club aims to keep growing, with plans to move into the second stadium for the 2026-2027 A League season and expand into multi-sport precinct.

From left to right: Greek Australian tennis player Thanasi Kokkinakis, Collingwood’s former captain and current player Scott Pendlebury, former Western’s United captain and footballer Alessandro Diamanti, Australia’s netball captain Liz Watson, Australian basketball player Chris Goulding. Photo: Supplied