Following 12 seasons in the NSW NPL, during which the club has won a single title in 2011, the Sydney Olympic FC board has appointed experienced sports administrator John Boulous as the club’s full time CEO.

Boulous comes to the job after almost three years at NRL club Paramatta Eels, where he was CEO last season and chief operating officer before that.

Prior to joining the Eels, Boulous was CEO at Football Federation Tasmania for three-and-a-half years, where he was involved in the process that saw the selection of eight Tasmanian teams for the state’s NPL league. Prior to that he spent nine years working in a variety of administrative and management roles, first for the FFA and then for FIFA.

With his experience as Football Federation Tasmania head and in particular helping to set up the NPL competition in that state, Boulous has a clear view of the role of a second-tier club like Sydney Olympic FC. Speaking to Neos Kosmos, Boulous says “we need to understand what our role is in Australian football as a second-tier club”.

“Obviously our role is to produce talent, develop both male and female youth. So we’ve got a very clear mandate on what our role is as an NPL club. Into the future we’d love to be playing at the highest level of football possible, but we need to ensure whatever model we look at, that it’s sustainable.
“That’s a very clear message of what we want to do. We want to attract and develop talented players and offer that really elite environment for them to achieve their footballing goals.”

Sydney Olympic recently conducted its first AGM in a number of years as a step towards implementing sound governance practices, something which according to Boulous, the board wants to focus on.

“We had a very passionate supporter base there. Lots of feedback and questions about where the club is going,” he says of the AGM. Much of the discussion centred around facility development, which Boulous regards as a key strategic focus if the club is to develop and grow stronger.

“I think the challenge is to create a professional home-base from a facility point of view where we can expand and develop our football program. At the moment we’re a bit all over the place in terms of location as to where our kids train. Excellent facilities ensure that you’re able to create a culture of excellence off the field. And it permits you to create an environment where players can be the very best they can be. At the moment our training facilities are one thing that needs improvement at the club.”

Boulous says the club is considering two options for facility development. The first is continued enhancement of Peter Moore field where the senior squad currently trains and youth teams play their matches. The club is looking at the possibility of an all-weather artificial grass playing facility, to improve playing surface’s resistance to the rigours of heavy use.

The second option being considered is the development of the Tempe Park precinct, “where the club is hopeful of working with council in securing a lease to be able to develop that into a high-performance centre − a training base that will enable us to expand and grow our football program”, with the possible view in the long term to establishing a home ground for the senior team.

“At the moment we have a great facility at Belmore Oval for our senior football and we’ll continue to look at that in the short term,” says Boulous.

Beside facility development and governance reform, he says the club would also like to rebuild the membership program, citing that Sydney Olympic FC rates almost twice most other NSW NPL clubs on social media metrics. “The following and identity of the club is very strong. It’s about engaging these people and bringing them back into the Olympic family.”

Like many other clubs, Boulous says they’re interested to see what the FFA’s criteria will be for A-League expansion. He says Sydney Olympic as a club is “interested to see what the next level is and what opportunities exist … As a second-tier club, it’s about seeing what the criteria are, digesting it and then looking at how we best improve as a club on and off the field. It doesn’t happen overnight. We need to put very strong groundwork as of now to ensure that we’re meeting all the criteria and we’re building and growing as a club.”

On field, the club has appointed a relatively unknown new coach, Portuguese-born Jaime Monroy Zamith in the dual role of technical director and first grade coach, for the coming season. He replaces club stalwart Grant Lee, who stays on as football director with a particular focus on the womens pathway, to get them into the best possible shape for promotion to the womens NPL.

“Jaime brings a very organised approach, a very sound experience in producing young talent which fits our mandate which is around youth development,” Boulous says of Monroy.

As well as coaching the first team, he sees Monroy’s role as setting and implementing a single technical football philosophy at the club through mentoring all the coaches and players at various levels throughout the club.

Regarding the senior squad, he says the club expectations are “about playing finals football, It’s about going deep into the FFA Cup competition and the NPL Finals series. I think they’re very important for your continued growth and exposure of the club”.

The CEO says the first team squad has been training for seven weeks and has retained about 50 per cent of the squad form last year, with several new additions and several new players currently trialling. The senior squad is expected to be finalised in late January.

Squad details thus far:

Re-signed players
1 – Paul Henderson
2 – William Angel
3 – Jason Madonis
4 – Christopher Gligor
5 – Mitchell Stamatellis
6 – Jake De Marigny

New arrivals
1 – Max Burgess (Sydney FC)
2 – Peter Makrillos (Rockdale Suns)
3 – Paul Katsetis (Parramatta FC)
4 – Costa Andricopoulos (Hakoah Sydney City FC)
5 – Yianni Spyrakis (Sydney FC)