Carina Parisella and two young cricket enthusiasts, with volunteer from Melbourne Stars Cricket Team, at the official Docklands Sports Club Launch at Ron Barassi Snr Park
When Carina Parisella moved her young family to the Docklands nine years ago, she had no idea that she would go on to help establish the area’s first local community sports club.
Carina had never worked in a sport clubs environment, or even played much sport, but in 2019 she went along to a meeting organised by the City of Melbourne to discuss how to make better use of Ron Barassi Senior Park.
‘Back then, my son had very few opportunities to play sport in our local area. There were waiting lists for neighbouring clubs like South Melbourne and Port Melbourne,’ said Carina.
‘I remember sitting in the pavilion room, and them saying that we needed to elect a president. At the time I remember thinking “I don’t have time for that extra work”! But then most of the guys in the room put their hand up for the job,’ said Carina.
‘And I thought, I’m a business professional who works for a major bank, I know how to start initiatives and run an efficient and effective business. So I’m going to put myself forward for the job.’
‘As women, we don’t typically put our hand up, but I thought “if he can do it, why can’t I”? I figured I could inject some female spirit,’ said Carina. ‘And then I got voted in.’
From the very beginning, Carina wanted to make sure the Club was a safe and inclusive community where everyone could feel they belonged.
The DSC currently offers a variety of sport and recreational activities including junior soccer, cricket and Auskick for children aged 5 to 12.
There are up to 100 children registered across all three programs, and a lot of interest from adults keen to play friendly social sports.
While girls currently only make up around 30 to 40 per cent of DSC players, Carina believes the AFL Women’s league and Afghan Women’s soccer team are inspiring more young girls to play football and soccer.
Carina is passionate about creating diverse and inclusive communities, which is evident through her leadership of DSC, which reflects the rich cultural diversity of the Docklands.
‘Cultural diversity is really important in the Docklands, we fully embraced it. It creates vibrancy and community connection,’ said Carina. ‘A lot of our population is Indian and our Indian community really wanted their kids to take part and get involved.’
Carina said the DSC has really built a sense of community for local Docklands families – many of whom live in high-rise complexes.
‘I’ll watch from the canteen, and I love to see parents connecting over a cup of coffee. At the start they used to watch their kids play at a distance from one another, but now they’re all huddled together in front of the pavilion. Some parents have even started a running group around the ground while the kids play,’ Carina said.
According to Carina, partnerships have been critical to the Club’s success: ‘We had a lot of help to get off the ground. There was Lucas Real Estate who paid for our public liability insurance, The District Docklands shopping centre who created giveaway bags, and property developer MAB helped us organise the launch event. They've all played a key part in helping us establish and we’re very grateful.’
‘Melbourne Stars Cricket Foundation, Melbourne Victory and Football Victoria also helped upskill our volunteer coaches and run some afterschool programs. It’s been amazing how so many organisations have supported us.’
And in turn, the DSC recently helped Docklands Primary School to convert their home ground into an athletics space for the school’s first ever athletics carnival.
When asked what’s next for the Club, Carina said ‘This is a club for local Docklands residents, to really make it their own. We would love to see more locals become volunteer coaches, help us run events, and take that next step to grow the club.’