By Tara Murray
It’s the beginning of a new era at the Gisborne Soccer Club.
The club has appointed its first female president to lead a new-look committee as it aims to take things to the next level.
Mel Paradiso takes over from Rodney Smith, who stood down late last year, and has already put her stamp on the role.
Paradiso joined Gisborne in 2016 after spending five years at Sunbury United where she was on the committee, a team manager and a junior coach.
In the past couple of years she has been involved both on the committee and as a team manager at Gisborne.
“What I would like to achieve from being president is a bigger and better club,” she said.
“There’s always room for improvement. I will endeavour to provide fairness and transparency to all members.
“Our Mission Statement says it all. We want to support and promote the growth of junior and senior soccer in the local community, whilst promoting community values and providing a quality learning environment for players of all ages and skill levels.”
Paradiso’s big passion is helping grow female involvement within the club.
It is looking to field a women’s side and six junior teams.
The club didn’t have the numbers for a women’s team last season, but has been inundated with players wanting to join this season.
Across the board, the Sky Blues have had a record number of players interested in playing this season. They are hoping to field 21 teams across the board.
Paradiso said they were still looking for players for all age groups.
The club has tasted success at both junior and senior level in recent years, but Paradiso said the club shouldn’t be judged on results alone.
“Our club policies are in place to provide a great place for kids to grow in a great sport and it is a healthy team environment.
“We want our kids to believe in the club’s values of fair play, growth and community.”
On top of record numbers, the club’s home ground Dixon Field has received some much-needed upgrades.
A new pavilion has been built, there’s a new cafeteria and change rooms and more works continue at the ground.
The club is still looking for potential sponsors, coaches and volunteers to get involved.
It is hosting a registration day on February 23 at Dixon Field.