Buy This Issue
The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 22 December 2018
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 22 DECEMBER 2018 25 SPORT How Johnny Koutroumbis’ Greek Orthodox faith got him through his recent cancer scare CON STAMOCOSTAS After a stellar 2017-18 ALeague campaign, Newcastle Jet rising star Johnny Koutroumbis had the world at his feet. His second season as a professional saw him score his first ever goals helping Newcastle to of their best A-League campaigns culminating in a home Grand Final against Melbourne Victory. However, on the eve of the 2018 -19 A-League season the 20-year-old found a lump in his neck and was side-lined indefinitely after he was diagnosed with Stage 1 thyroid cancer. Only six weeks after surgery Koutroumbis was given the all clear to return to the Jets and the 20-year-old believes his faith is a major reason why he has recovered so quickly. "I'm a big believer in God, I'm Greek Orthodox due to being raised like that," he told Neos Kosmos. "I felt like it was a godsend that the lump did form instead of not forming which could've ended up being worse. So the doctors caught it early because the lump formed. That's why I say it's a godsend because that type of cancer doesn't always show up as a lump." Koutroumbis says being back in training with his Newcastle Jets teammates over the last month has helped him move forward. "They were a really big help in the recovery process and at the same time on the mental side as well," he revealed. "I had Lawrie McKinna (Newcastle Jets CEO) come in twice to see me at hospital as well as the players and the staff. "I don't like to be side lined. It's pretty frustrating even when I am injured. But you've got to have that mental strength to think you can come back stronger. That this is just a small hurdle in life that you can overcome and you have to get back out there." Johnny Koutroumbis Koutroumbis' family is based in Adelaide and he revealed that their support was also important during the ini- tial stages of his diagnosis. "A few days before the surgery and all the way throughout until I got home from hospital my mum and dad where there," he says. "So they took time off work to came up to Newcastle and two days after I got out of the hospital my girlfriend came up. "They helped throughout the whole experience, bringing me food and my clothes. Basically helping me when I was down. They were very supportive and they helped get me back on my feet quickly." After going through a health scare like that Koutroumbis says he has a new outlook on life. "You try and not to take life for granted," he says. "I sat in the hospital for a good week and a half and started to think about people that have conditions and disabilities that are much more severe and worse than what I have. "Because I'm so young I've got my whole life ahead of me. You can't just live in the past, so you have to move on from these things" A-League not in the healthiest state says Papastergiadis The chairman of South Melbourne’s bid cast serious doubt towards the decision making process for the expansion In the wake of South Melbourne's failure to claim one of the two licenses that would allow them to participate in the A-League, the head of the club's effort Bill Papastergiadis was featured on the "Morning with Brett Phillips" radio show. Papastergiadis pointed out that his club ticked out all the boxes that the Football Federation of Australia (FFA) set as requirements towards all clubs participating in the expansion process (training facilities, youth club, sponsorship, followers and a stadium) and contrary to popular belief, he and his team were confident up until the very end of the procedure that they would be the ones selected to play in the top ranks of Australian Football. He added that he didn't comprehend the way with which the final decision was made "Considering our bid, we should have been at the top, we should have been selected. So I've had difficulty di- gesting how the decision was made. I've had difficulty understanding the role of other participants outside of the bidders in whatever decision might have been made. And I think that, for the purposes of the game going forward and because it is not in the healthiest state as we see in terms of viewership numbers and also attendance numbers, it requires transparency and an open process towards all of the bidders to ensure that they continue to contribute to the game." When asked if he believes that he is fighting a losing battle, considering the former national Soccer League (NSL) clubs are becoming a thing of the past and no longer have a place in the way things are moving forward within the sport in Australia, Mr Papastergiadis offered an alternate point of view: "I think it'll be the opposite. Even though the club is struggling at the moment South Melbourne will eventually reach the A-League, since that’s where they belong, according to Bill Papastergiadis. because of the current model, the franchise model itself has only been partly successful. 14 years subsequent to when the A-League was set up, we're now in a situation where average attendances are plummeting, viewership on Foxtel is certainly not healthy and there is a desire from the supporters and the spectators, whether they're supporters of South (Melbourne) or not, for real derbies with real clubs. For clubs with history, with passion, and clubs that can drive interest, whether you love them or you hate them, and that's what sport is about. It's about true, competi- tive tension among clubs that are existing and real. I believe they're the only ones that can bring that to a competition." In closing, Mr Papastergiadis stressed the need for a second division and relegation/promotion in order for competition between teams to increase.
15 December 2018
05 January 2019