Sporting idea in a league of its own

A group of HSC students has taken the idea of lunchtime footy to new levels.

29 June 2020
The Wednesday League game one preview

Student 1

This is our chance have a platform of our own where, you know, we can write our own destiny we can be our own success story.

Student 2

With all on the line though, we gotta win no matter what.

Student 3

No nerves or anything, we just wanna play.

Student 1

There was no hostility whatsoever but then as soon as we got onto the pitch you could see that it all changed.

Commentator

Drama in the extreme. A game full of penalties, catastrophes, controversy.

Student 3

You can get sent for that.

Commentator

Listen to them. They will be rowing about that for weeks and months to come. The launch game of the Wednesday League. Is there to be a hero on the day?

Year 12 students at Forest High School have shown they are in a league of their own after creating a soccer competition that has tapped into the talents of some of the world’s most renowned sports commentators.

The first game in the Wednesday League was aired last week and in the build-up to the event co-founder Jude Dolan secured commentary from the so-called poet laureate of football, former ITV commentator Peter Drury and Australian Fox Sports legend Simon Hill.

The Wednesday League is a grassroots football tournament created by, produced by, and starring Forest High school students in northern Sydney.

Co-founder Rory Sarkies said the concept for the league came after a group of friends was sitting in the library during lunch and noticed the oval wasn’t being used.

“We decided to set up a game, everyone had a blast and the idea took up from there,” he said.

Jude said the league pits a team of Year 12’s most avid football fans – the Forest Originals – against the Northern Sydney Select, a “best of the rest” team that includes basketballers, skateboarders, and other students who have a passion for football but “whose main hobbies have maybe resided elsewhere”.

Six boys from two soccer teams stand looking at camera with arms crossed.
Image: Wednesday warriors, from left, Jude Dolan, Noah Thurbon, and Alex Dimitrov of the Northern Sydney Select, followed by Nicolas Seale, James Harris and Sam De Groot of The Forest Originals.

The unique feature of the Wednesday League is the group’s decision to film the matches and broadcast them, complete with commentary, on a designated YouTube channel.

Jude, who is a passionate filmmaker as well as soccer player, said the teams wanted to share what they were doing with other students and hopefully inspire them.

“I was eager to make it the most legitimate and professional platform I have the ability to do, and to show all what us schoolkids can do,” Jude said.

This led him to approach Simon Hill, Australia’s pre-eminent football commentator on FoxSports, and ex-ITV journalist Peter Drury, known for his excited commentary during the World Cup.

Jude said Drury had “very generously” fitted in the work between his Premier League and German Bundesliga commitments and commentated an extended highlights package of Game One.

Hill narrated one of the league’s lead-up promos with an on-set piece that included fellow Fox Sports pundits Adam Peacock, Premier League winner Robbie Slater and former Australian and Manchester United goalkeeper Mark Bosnich.

"[Hill and Drury] loved the idea of the League, and it made me very proud to hear their opinions,” Jude said.

Bosnich had also commented that Australian football needed more initiatives like the Wednesday League.

While Jude did much of the pre-game filming, he said on game day the teams were helped out by Stage 5 and 6 multimedia students from The Forest and Student Representative Council members.

Like many activities this year the league had been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, with several matches cancelled during the lockdown.

However, Jude said the Wednesday League had helped bond the students as they entered their final year of school.

“Another thing that [inspired] me to make this initiative come to life was its ability to act as ‘our’ thing – The Forest High’s thing – the Class of 2020’s thing.”

Jude said creating the online material for the Wednesday League had been a learning experience.

"I knew I was a far-cry from any big marketer or franchise advertiser, but I was happy to take on the challenge of mixing my obtained knowledge from experience in the field and continue my learning as I went along,” he said.

“So far, the public eyes that have seen our content have seemed wholeheartedly intrigued, which makes me and the players very proud. The aim is to keep on growing and growing and building a further audience.”

  • Student voices
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