HARROW, NW LONDON: The “Saints” speak…

Fr. Anastasios D. Salapatas

As St. Panteleimon FC is coming closer to realising its great dream of playing in the English Leagues, thus becoming the only Greek Team in the environment of the English Football pyramid, we thought of talking to three of the main people that have actually prepared the new journey of the “Saints”.

We’ve started with the “Saint’s” Manager George Frangeskou, who has proven to be quite a successful managerial figure in the life of the Team. He has been serving the Team from day one of its history, with great enthusiasm and admirable dedication. We asked him a few questions and he was happy to answer openly and state freely his views.

Q. What differences and challenges do you see going into this season, for the first time in the English Leagues, compared to previous seasons?

A. From a managerial perspective the challenges essentially remain the same but a greater emphasis is placed on the need to deliver upon certain criteria. As a Club, we now have a broad and significant group of stakeholders and therefore as a Manager you must certainly respect and accept the marked difference in expectations this brings.

The Players must also understand this and the essence of what is required at this level. They need to step up in all aspects of their game both physically and mentally and they must demonstrate their ability to meet these demands consistently throughout our season.  The teams that form our league are very strong, committed and experienced. We must settle quickly into this environment and impose our game on the opposition.

Q. What is it about the club that has attracted you to want to be involved?

A. We place our “FAITH FIRST” and this embraces all we do in life. The sense of being a part of a purposeful journey that sees a group of Players aspire to be the best they can be and place faith in one another is priceless.

Q. How has the transfer window been for you and how is the Team doing as it prepares for the Championship kick off on 16th September?

A. We’ve been busy identifying Players that can improve us in key positions as well as strengthening our squad. The outstanding Elias Katsoloudi, Leo Agathangelou & Demetris Anastasiou join us from the highly respected Livadia.  The hugely talented Javonne Molloy joins us from Edgware Town and also joining us is the awesome goalkeeping presence of Leon Dimas from professional Football Club Rosenburg. In summary, a good window of activity.

Q. Sport is as much psychological as it is physical. How do you get Players to believe they are winners?

A. The team are preparing well, we are integrating the new Players into our Team and they have settled very quickly. We are positively working towards reaching our optimum level and looking in good shape for the forthcoming campaign.

Q. You have a new home ground this season. How do you see that in terms of helping to deliver good Team performances?

A. Our facilities are amongst the very best in the country. Our ground share with North Greenford United FC is truly amazing and provides our Club and its Players with a professional platform that meets with the Club’s aspirations. It is essentially a reflection of our ambition. The Players look forward to playing on the immaculate grass surface and in front of their fans. This will help bring out the very best from our squad.

Q. You are a successful businessman and a family man. Where do you find the time to also be so heavily involved with the Club?

A. To achieve a collective objective you must make sacrifices. In the same way Players must step up and improve and do more, so too must management rise to the challenge. The sacrifice I make, along with members of our Committee, is my free time.  Time that I would otherwise spend elsewhere relaxing is now directed towards all aspects of St. Panteleimon FC.

Q. What are the strengths of St. Panteleimon FC? Any weaknesses?

A. The Club is defined by its Committee and the incredible passion and positive will shown by its founder, Father Anastasios D. Salapatas.  His vision of using football as a tool to bring men, women and children from our Community together in such a spiritual, meaningful and entertaining way has been an inspiration to all. Our story has attracted attention and interest internationally especially in our home countries of Cyprus & Greece.  These are our strengths and this powerful philosophy binds the Players too.

We have no weaknesses, only opportunities and this keeps our feet firmly on the ground. We strive to improve every day and accept the fact that we have many lessons to learn both on and off the pitch.

The Secretary the St. Panteleimon FC James Neophytou, a very devoted and energetic Committee member, has kindly offered the following statement:

At the Saints, we like to do things properly. Football is played as it should be. On the ground, everyone contributing. We are always looking to improve the Team. Quality, attitude and strength of character are key. Off the pitch, we fly several flags. Community spirit and our Greek Orthodox culture, being first. Our Players come from diverse backgrounds, but the bedrock is Greek and Cypriot heritage. Finally, we have solid governance and an engaged Committee of professional and business people. We work within our means, and plan well. And then deliver and execute well. We are all busy, but we find spare time for our beloved Club.

 

From left: Armenakas -Salapatas-Frangeskou

John Armenakas, who is the very keen Director of Football for St. Panteleimon FC, states about his connection with the Club:

I’ve been involved in football for many years now and in varying degrees. When I was invited to join the Committee and to contribute to the aspirations and the journey of the Club, it was a no brainer. So many factors were so well aligned that together, they drew me in. A sporting Club underpinned by the values of my faith, bringing together young footballers with similar cultural backgrounds wanting to work together to achieve common goals. It’s a pleasure and an honour to be working with the Club’s Committee, on behalf of the Community and the Players to be building a professional operating structure to support our sporting ambitions.

St. Panteleimon FC will play on Saturday 9th September its last friendly game, against PFC Victoria, and then it starts its League campaign on Saturday 16th September, with an away game, against Fire United CFC.

On Saturday 23rd September, the “Saints” will play their first home League match, against London Samurai Utd. This will certainly be a celebratory occasion for the Team. All members, friends, sponsors, supporters and fans are invited to attend. There will be a great festive atmosphere and many surprises.

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