Written by Stuart McLennan
Athens City Raiders Head Coach Christos Mouzakitis is a massive Canberra Raiders fan as are many of his players.
The club’s major sponsor, Sydney Electrical Contractors, owned by Raiders tragic Rob Theo, is also a player sponsor of the Green Machine’s English backrower Elliott Whitehead.
“We first had contact with the SEC owner about buying some merchandise as he’s an avid Canberra Raiders supporter and Greece national team (supporter) as well,” Mouzakitis told Everything Rugby League.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t have any (merchandise) at that moment but when we launched a sponsorship scheme around September 2019, we were instantly approached by SEC as a jersey sponsor for the upcoming season.
“They ended up taking all sponsorships as a bundle and that literally unchained our hands to cover some fundamental equipment costs, chip in transportation cost for the matches and the booking cost for the privately owned field for training.”
Like their Australian counterparts the Athens ‘Green Machine’ have a mission to be successful both on and off the field and are taking steps to achieve those goals.
Training has resumed after the summer break following a shortened season that was halted earlier this year due to the pandemic. All things going well the 20/21 season will commence in October.
In their debut season in the Greek Rugby League Association competition the Raiders men’s team managed to play four games before the season was cut short. The highlight was a win against Patra while they remained competitive in losses to Athens rivals Attica Rhinos, Aris Eagles and AEK.
The club established a women’s side following the selection of founding member Anna Spatharova in the Greek National side for their debut international against Turkey.
While the women narrowly lost both of their two games played in the nines format against Aris Eagles, there were signs that they will be formidable opponents in the near future.
Mouzakitis says he has been impressed with the turnout at training after the summer break.
“For the men we have numbers of about 25-30 at the moment with 5 of them being rookies. Women are steadily around 10 girls.
“I thought that due to COVID and the surrounding uncertainty, the boys and girls would be a little bit reluctant or discouraged but they are very pumped up and in high spirits.”
“Goals wise, our men’s team should focus on closing the gap with the top Athenian teams while confirming that the new boys will get some game time in order to provide some depth that will be needed during the season.
“Our women’s team hopefully will get their first win so the girls will taste the fruits of victory and encourage them to continue pushing hard in training. Moreover, it is crucial to increase our numbers and get a full 13 squad.”
The Athens Raiders recently announced a partnership with Ghana Skolars RLC from the 2020-2021 season.
Both clubs are relatively new, Ghana Skolars commencing in 2018 and Athens Raiders in 2019.
The clubs will share knowledge in the areas of:
– Training environment and game day preparations
– Coaching information resources
– Operations & Logistics
– Sponsorship & Marketing
– Digital content & Social media
“This is the first partnership of several which will be announced over the coming weeks,” Mouzakitis said.
It is clear the club is not letting the grass grow under its feet in the pursuit for sustainability and success.
The Greek Rugby League intend to host eight clubs in the upcoming season including newcomer Tirana from Albania