I wanted to update you on a few key things before we move into the festive season and on to 2021.
I hope the updates throughout the year have been helpful in keeping you informed of what has been happening at the club.
In recent weeks, we have welcomed the new members of our Eels family, Isaiah Papali’i, Tom Opacic, Keegan Hipgrave, Bryce Cartwright, Joey Lussick, Michael Oldfield and Nathaniel Roache who have joined our returning players for the commencement of 2021 pre-season training. With the exception of our four NSW Origin players (who commence training in January), all other members of the top squad have also returned to training.
It’s also been incredibly exciting to see 10 of our finest elite pathways players train alongside the top squad for their first full pre-season. They have been welcomed with open arms by the playing group and their energy and excitement has been contagious for the entire squad from day one.
All our players are now enjoying a well-deserved break over Christmas and New Year before hitting the training field again in early January in the lead up to our trials in February and Round 1 game against the Broncos at Suncorp on 12 March.
As we look ahead to 2021, our home draw hopefully provides something to look forward to for all our members and fans. Our first home game is against defending premiers the Storm in Round 2, with a great mix of big match-ups under lights and a number of family friendly Sunday afternoon clashes against some of our biggest Sydney rivals scheduled for Bankwest Stadium. We’re also really looking forward to our trip up to Darwin on ANZAC weekend to take on the Broncos. We hope to once again be able to provide our fans with the best match day experience in the NRL.
The amazing support and loyalty from you, our members, continues with our membership tally currently sitting at just over 27,000. We rank first across all NRL clubs and our membership base is significantly up on this time last year. In what has been a long and testing year for us all, I am in awe of the way the Eels family so passionately support this Club year after year. Without the devotion of our members I cannot imagine what this year would have looked like for our Club. So once again, thank you.
As focused as we are on delivering on-field and off-field success in 2021, securing the long-term future of the Club is equally important.
We have continued to make progress on our Centre of Excellence project, with construction of Stage 2 planned to commence in 2021. This will see the delivery of a Community Centre at Kellyville Park which will include a boutique style grandstand to allow the Club to host 2nd tier, elite pathway and community rugby league matches, together with entertainment and education spaces for the community. It is the next step in what will ultimately be the premier rugby league facility in the country.
We have also announced the extension of a number of existing sponsorships and new partnerships in recent months, with further announcements to be made early in the new year. The support from our sponsors and members means that we now have a level of financial stability which has not been experienced for many years, and provides the Club with a strong platform for growth and a future that looks bright.
As this year draws to a close, and our challenges as a wider community continue, we would like to wish you all a safe and happy Christmas, as we hold out hope that we can return to some form of normality in 2021.
We hope that you all get to spend some quality time with those closest to you, and we look forward to seeing you at a game next season.
Chief Executive Officer