At the Football End of Season Dinner, the audience of supporters, players, coaches and directors were rewarded with a heartfelt speech given by the 2016 Captain of Football, Old Newingtonian and now year 7 coach Sam Mehmet. Speaking about both his transition from player to coach, and reflecting on the good times he’s had as both, his address is testament to the strength of our Football community.
The past 12 months have been incredible, although it has left me with a deep hole in my heart, a burning desire to play for Newington Football again. Despite Mr Verco telling me to just shave and chuck on a Newington Jersey, I have had to succumb to the sideline this year as a Coach.
This year as a coach I have had the pleasure of taking the Open 8ths team and the 13Cs. In the 13s age group I have taken every team on a Saturday from the 13As down to the Hs; with the added pleasure today of travelling from the Shire to King’s by 7:30 AM. Likewise I have been coaching with the open 5ths to 10ths at training. While I hope that I was able to expand these boys’ knowledge about football, I learnt that they had expanded mine.
I was with boys from teams that I had never engaged with before, not even in my year as Captain last season. I was able to see the smile on Athan Tragotsalos’ (7/JN) face when his 13Hs team scored a goal, coming up to me after the game saying “We did it Sir, We did it”; ultimately putting a smile on my face. Or the opportunity to coach some of the most genuine and nicest men I’ve met; Tom Whitnall (11/PR), Danny Kalis (12/LE), Eden Ding (11/MA), Yusuf Ali (12/KL), Sebastian Jackson (11/ME); even at times Jeremiah Diskoros (11/MA)“Mehmet cuz, what’d yous get up to on the weekend.” You see, these are the boys that are the backbone of the Football Program; they never get their name mentioned on SPACES or at Assembly, but each week I see them putting in their hard work no matter what team they are in.
I’ve often been asked the question; “If you don’t make it professionally Mehm after all these years, then what was the point?”
The point is that despite professional football, I can name over 100 situations where football itself and playing football will help you with a life situation – it teaches you discipline, maturity, respect, teamwork. These are all things that Newington embodies and things I’ve learnt on a football pitch.
But after all, yes football may help with these things, but it is also the game that I love. And what is life without passions? Just working away and not enjoying yourself? I encourage each of you to find your passion away from study and work and never let go of these things; passions are the very things that keep us sane and ultimately let us live life itself. Amongst my career and however busy I get, I’ve learnt to always continue and never lose sight of my passions.
For the Year 7s to 11s I hope you continue with the Football Program next season, but specifically for the Year 12s; I hope you all continue to play next year and don’t lose sight of your own passions. Play for your Uni, play for the local club, trial for Reps, whatever level; I urge you guys to continue playing.
This year I was fortunate enough to play at Hakoah U20s with my Striking partner Connor Eldridge (ON 2016) from last season. While it has been an enjoyable season at Hakoah, I never forget Mr Verco’s words from the dressing room in 2014, 2015 and 2016.
“Lads… look around you … make the most of this opportunity playing for the College, alongside your mates, because once you walk out those gates you will never have the same opportunity to play with your best friends like this again.”
When I look back on my footballing journey at Newington, the thing I will remember most is playing with my mates and being able to come together to share what we love.
Sadly for this year’s Year 12 they have played their last game together, but for the younger boys, every time you wear that Wyvern, treat it likes it’s your last game.
Sam Mehmet (ON 2016)