Monaro Panthers continue to develop

The Monaro Panthers are once again a club on the rise, as this Queanbeyan-based club continue to foster the high regard in which they are held in the Canberra community.

The Monaro Panthers are once again a club on the rise. With an expanding player base and a plan to return to the summit of Premier League competition in the ACT, this Queanbeyan-based club continue to foster the high regard in which they are held in the Canberra community.

The Panthers originally formed in 1967 under the banner of Inter Monaro, the product of Italian immigrants in the area. While they have always worn their green and black stripes proudly, the club has experienced a somewhat chequered history.

The club has competed at various levels in ACT and NSW competitions, the highpoint being the two seasons Monaro spent in the NSL in 1985/86. The club then went back to local competition but after claiming the title in 1999, were dormant for two years.

They re-formed as the Monaro Panthers in 2001, with an emphasis on junior development and from a modest roster of 100 players, have gown to almost ten times that figure today. The Monaro Panthers returned to the top-flight of Canberra competition three years ago and have ambitions of winning the title within six years.

According to Club President Mauro Davanzo, it-s been great to oversee the transformation the club has experienced in recent times.

“It-s been good to see the club reinvigorated and now competing across all levels of competition,” said Davanzo. “After being primarily junior development focused, we decided three years ago to again enter senior Men-s and Women-s teams.

“It-s been a challenge to find coaches and difficult to meet the directives of the new NPL competition but like any non-profit organisation we-ve got great people involved, who are very giving of their time and focused on giving the kids a great experience.

“We are very proud of the fact we have the largest participation rate of any sports club in Queanbeyan and thousands of people have accepted us as a great club to play football with."

The Monaro Panthers are certainly embracing the community focused roots in which they were founded but also have ambition.

Just this week they have sent a junior contingent to contest the Gyeongju International Youth (U-12) Football Tournament in Korea, which will feature 20 teams from 12 different countries. The boys will be competing against teams from Spain, China, Japan and Korea in this “Mini World Cup” arena, which is promoted as one of the best youth tournaments in the world.

The club has also recently had defender Sam Osatto selected in the Australian Schoolboys Squad and are looking forward to their annual Festival of Football Tournament in October.

"It all amounts to an exciting time for the club," says Davanzo. “We-ve had good ties with the Korean Football Association over the last six years, so it was great to be able to accept their invitation to send a side to their world junior tournament.

“We also do a lot of social things with schools in the region and the Festival of Football is part of that. Our presentation day is also a huge community event and people from all sports are blown away by how infectious we all are.

“In terms of our senior teams we are obviously still in a transitional phase but we will continue to develop. It is great to see the club now being driven by many of the parents and grandparents that were part of the club when it was originally formed.

“We are one club and we are all united.”