Western United Event Manager Jess Sage has been named the inaugural winner of the Chairman's Award, for her outstanding work during the 2019/20 season.
Sage's contributions this year have included organising all the different facets of match day, to putting together community events.
wufc.com.au caught up with Sage to hear her thoughts on what was a roller-coaster first season.
What was your highlight of the season?
My highlight of the season has to be our first ever home match at GMHBA Stadium in Geelong. There was so much anticipation, nerves and excitement going into that first match. It was a huge moment for everyone at the club as everyone had contributed so much up until that first match.
Once the whistle blew for kick off it was very surreal that we had finally got to that moment and I think the whole team felt a great sense of achievement that we had successfully kicked off. It was a great first event and it was so exciting to see all the fans in the stands and everyone enjoying the moment.
What were some of the challenges you faced in 2019/20?
The move to Whitten Oval was challenging as it was something as a club we decided to change during the season, and it was a big job to get the venue up to the FFA requirements and the standard we wanted for the fans. Whitten Oval had also never hosted a football (soccer) game before, so it was a new challenge for both parties, but we were happy with how the day turned out.
The pandemic has also been challenging working in the event space as we have had to adapt to the changes and the ways we do things. The shift to an online or virtual approach has been a new challenge for everyone in the industry and it has been important for myself and the team to keep the fans & stakeholders engaged without the typical in person event experience.
Why do you like working in football?
I have been watching football with my family from a young age, so I have always enjoyed watching and going to the matches - that is where my passion for the sport began. Working in football there is a real togetherness feel about it, as a team we spend many hours and weekends together, so it becomes like a second family and it really makes working together much more enjoyable.
What are you looking forward to in the 2020/21 A-League season?
Looking forward to being able to host our matches and events again here in Victoria and being able to see our fans attend them!
What global event(s) inspire you?
I think America does it best! The NBA and Superbowl they put on the best show and it’s something that people don’t just attend to watch for the sport but also for the entertainment and the event experience. I love that they put on shows with so much madness and it keeps the fans and spectators entertained down to the very second. Also, other events such as Coachella, Australian Open huge events with so many cool activations and pop ups!