Taking lunchtime football to the big league

One student explains how an idea to play football at lunchtime evolved into an exciting new chapter.

09 October 2020

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

Video: Game 3 preview - The Wednesday League

Duration: 1:29
Game 3 preview for The Wednesday League.

Playing the final game at Bankwest Stadium had been a true goal of mine since the league’s inception, and it was thanks to the ultimate aid of Bankwest as major sponsors themselves that I was able to take The Wednesday League to this new height. I had always planned to build up the series, beginning with it being played at school and gradually growing, and with the help of the Manly Warringah Football Association lending us Cromer Park this is exactly what we were able to do for the opening season.

I found success by channelling my ambition, and giving each of my wildest imaginations a try. I had optimistic partnership ambitions. I contacted Peter Drury and Derek Rae for commentary and reached an agreement with Rebel Sport. I had the major goal of playing the final day at Bankwest Stadium – which eventually paid off as Bankwest jumped on board the concept after I proposed the idea to them in late August/early September. The Bankwest team and those at VenuesLive hosted us at the western Sydney ground in September and made the inaugural season dream come true.

Group of students wearing football uniform stand in a line in the middle of stadium with empty seats and stadium lights in the background.
Image: Bankwest Stadium hosted the decider in The Wednesday League.

I had worked with Simon Hill in the pre-season as he narrated a video explaining the story behind the League – currently our most viewed YouTube video bar the series trailer – and after securing the final match at Bankwest, I wanted to see if he was keen on commentating our big day. He jumped on board and is our Game Three full game commentator! Simon was incredibly cooperative with me and the project and with understanding how it was such a grassroots competition. His announcing of the game is a real honour.

Weeks of preparation went into the big match day. After confirming the Stadium as host in early September, we worked on the operational side of things, the media, and everything else I needed to learn and do ahead of such an arena event day. A few sleepless nights and many free periods got the day over the line in the end and I am proud to have organised such a day.

It took a while to settle in to playing in a formal venue. I had been to Bankwest Stadium a few times before our event, but it was only when I was at the stadium polishing off some operational to-dos and stepping onto the pitch nine days out from the game, that I stopped for a second and went “…wow, this is actually happening”. On matchday itself, we were able to have a hundred of our closest family and friends, business partners and staff from the school in attendance but the intimacy of having people close to us there for the day made it more special and personal than if we had sold out every one of the ground’s 30,000 seats.

With this, the opening season begins to draw to a close and the door opens up for the future. Preparations are beginning for Season Two which is set to feature the new Year 12 cohort of our The Forest High School, with expansion imminent in 2022 with more Northern Beaches school-based teams jumping on board. We’ve already received interest from other areas and even professional football clubs within Sydney. I mean it when I say I cannot wait to take The Wednesday League into its next chapter and beyond. The thought of growing my idea as far as it possibly can excites me day in, day out.

Jude Dolan is completing his HSC at The Forest High School and is one of the founders of The Wednesday League.

Find out more about The Wednesday League on their Facebook or YouTube channels.

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