Gippsland Legend Throws Support Behind Westpac Festival

Melbourne Heart FC has received a boost ahead of its arrival in the Latrobe Valley next week with local football legend Manny Gotis throwing his support behind the Westpac Community Football Festival.

Melbourne Heart FC has received a boost ahead of its arrival in the Latrobe Valley next week with local football legend Manny Gotis throwing his support behind the Westpac Community Football Festival.

A six-year veteran of the Gippsland Falcons, Gotis played over 140 times in the former National Soccer League, drawing acclaim for his strong performances in defence and off-field drive of junior development in the area under legendary coach Frank Arok.

Gotis also led the Falcons to its only major trophy, the 1998 Tynan Eyre Cup, captaining the side as it defeated former national champions Melbourne Knights for the pre-season trophy.

After extended break from football, Gotis has returned to the sporting scene in a boost for the three-day Westpac Community Football Festival.

Gotis said Heart-s presence in the region will provide a fantastic boost for football in the La Trobe Valley region.

“Gippsland has a very proud and strong football heritage, with nearly 3,000 youngsters playing the sport at a junior level,” he said.

“While it is unfortunate the Falcons eventually faded on the national stage, it is fantastic to see Heart take up the mantle and help promote football in the region.”

With Heart hosting a series of free clinics and events throughout the three-day festival, encompassing Morwell, Moe, Traralgon and Drouin, Gotis said his own 5-year-old son Michael will be among those taking part and is looking forward to meeting the Heart players.

“Having Qantas Socceroos such as Matt Thompson, Dean Heffernan and Clint Bolton, as well as international stars Gerald Sibon and Rutger Worm in attendance will hopefully inspire local players to continue playing football,” he said.

“This type of commitment to Gippsland has been missing for years and it-s exciting and fresh that Melbourne Heart FC has taken the initiative to support our future stars and thanks to the Westpac Community Program the kids will be able to share their dreams.

“I urge all playing and non-playing football enthusiasts to register as this will be an experience not to be missed building into Melbourne Heart FC-s first season in the Australian A-League Competition.”