Ashfield Pirates named 2022 Fair Play Winners

Published Thu 20 Oct 2022

Only three years on from winning the Crystal Cup, young club Ashfield Pirates has completed their collection of triumphs by taking out the Bert Harvey Award.

The Bert Harvey Award is the perpetual trophy awarded to the annual Fair Play winners of Football Canterbury, where to be eligible a club must have a minimum of ten competitive teams.

Winning this award is big achievement for Ashfield and goes to show the effectiveness of a club culture that does not accept bad behaviour.

“I am always so proud of our players and members but to know that the wider football community also recognises this as well, makes me even prouder,” said club president, Jean Kouriel.

“This club culture and vision is what I had for the Pirates from the beginning. More than anything, to achieve this only a few years after we won the Crystal Cup in 2019, shows that we all share that vision.”

With APIA Leichhardt JFC, Belmore Eagles, Cooks River Titans, Marrickville Red Devils, and Strathfield FC fellow finalists in the award, Ashfield had the best record and were declared deserved winners.

“If you look at all the games in the 2022 season, you’ll find we only received one red card. All our communications begin from the top and that’s me, the President, I set the tone and culture for the club and do not tolerate any bad behaviour not only from the players but also from their parents and carers.

“Pirates players from eight years of age to the seniors are extremely competitive but play the game fairly while respecting the referees, opponents, coaches, and teammates. Prior to the start of every season, we get together with all coaches and managers and go through the absolute do’s & don’ts which must be adhered to by all without exceptions.”

The Bert Harvey Award caps off a remarkable turnaround by Ashfield who finished in the bottom three on the Fair Play Table as recently as 2018. The club considered this a wake-up call and put into place measures to ensure that never happened again.

“Following an embarrassing 2018 season where we had to had to kick a couple of teams out of the club, we set policy in place where any new team wanting to join our club have go through a vigorous assessment process to make sure they are a good fit for our club culture.

“2018 was a year where we were happy to recruit new players and didn’t really have any criteria in place about who the players were – rather it was more a numbers game.  In hindsight, it was a huge mistake and honestly, personally the most embarrassing year for me as the President as that year out of 328 players, the club received 23 red cards that came mainly from three men’s teams.

“Needless to say they were not welcomed back for the 2019 season and hence our resolve was strengthened. This brings us to 2022 and with over 450 players we only had one red card. Ashfield Pirates has a zero tolerance when it comes to bullying, officials abuse and poor sportsmanship. If a player or parent does not abide by the club’s rule then they will not welcomed back the following season.”

Image credit: Photographed with Love