Mad Max15 November 2019
From Famagusta to Footscray – Bill Theocharides14 August 2022
“I’m pulling on the boots, tell me I’m being a ******* idiot and say no!”
David ‘Dave’ Jansen was smiling ear-from-ear when he first told me that he was going to play his first season for the Rangers Football Club. If you didn’t know Dave, you’d be forgiven that at his age he would be joking about donning the Green and Black for the first time in a playing capacity. Knowing his character in his 3 years as a supporter of the club though, Dave’s infectious positive energy meant that there was no doubt he would take the field for our 4ths/Over 35’s team.
Football is a game that brings people together. While cliched, you only need to look around at our 5 teams to see that we are a club made of an eclectic group of people. We have twins, long lost cousins, over 35 distinct ethnicities and countless friendships that make up our Community.
We have never had a Father and Son duo though, until season 2022.
Kester Jansen is our longest serving member of the Goalkeeping fraternity at the Rangers, and many of us have had the pleasure of seeing him grow into the role of our number 1 keeper. Beginning at the club playing in our original 3rds squad of 2019, Kester Jansen was an indoor soccer player with a lot to prove. Playing in his Bendigo indoor soccer team, he ran about with a group of mates plying his trade at the Bendigo Futsal Institute. What surprised me most about this revelation was that he wasn’t the teams goalkeeper…. It was actually his Dad. “My Dad has always been a part of my sports journey ever since I started, he coached me in my first soccer team, then was the team manager for footy, so when I started playing indoor soccer it just made sense that he would come and play with us”. When the author heard this in his capacity as a schoolteacher, this revelation that a teenager would actively be OK with his Dad’s involvement in his sport was like a two-foot challenge to my preconceptions about teens relationship with their parents.
There’s a notion that Goalkeepers are a ‘little different’ compared to other guys at your club, and this disclosure spoke a lot about both, Kester and Dave’s personality’s but also their relationship. “When I came down to play with the Rangers, I expected Dad to show up and it wasn’t really a surprise that he started running the lines for us. It was even less of a surprise that he put his hand up to be a committee member, and now to be a player for us too”. “It would be weird if Dad wasn’t there. Even for one game if I can’t hear him giving me advice or encouraging me, it just feels strange”. Dave cuts in curtly “That’s because you’re a lazy s***!”. Kester laughs and adds ‘Now Dad has played a bit; I give him feedback on how he went and it’s a really nice way for us to spend time together talking about our games and trying to improve every week. When the guys haven’t seen my dad for a while like… if we have a few away games in a row, they ask me ‘How’s your dad going’? Here’s very much part of this club now if he wasn’t before”.
It’s clear there is a strong paternal bond between father and son, that Dave has been involved with in instilling virtues in Kester that they both bounce off each other so freely. This relationship is built on a bedrock of sacrifice, with Kester’s experience of playing football at the Rangers being a microcosm of many children’s shared experiences of playing sport in suburban Australia but amplified intensely by the sheer fact he hails from Bendigo.
“Kester for most of the year is based down here in Melbourne near RMIT (for his University studies), Adelle and I travel down from Bendigo to see him play”. The financial and time commitment to pay the cost and time of travel respectively, has ensured that Kester has had the opportunity to develop the beginnings of life-long friendships and build his resilience as an independent young person. Dave wouldn’t have it any other way though, and is grateful for the opportunity that he feels the club has afforded him and his son to be enriched by sport. “When ‘Kes first came down to Melbourne, it made sense for him to try out for the RMIT soccer team because that was where he was going to University. He missed a chunk of pre-season because he was in the process of relocating from Bendigo to Melbourne, so when he tried out for the RMIT squads he was a few weeks behind the others in terms of their fitness. He didn’t get much of a shot and they told him that there wasn’t a place for him at their club. So we looked around Melbourne for a different kind of club environment, and we happened upon you guys (Footscray Rangers Football Club)”. Dave pauses for a minute before elaborating on how he has found his time at the Rangers as a Dad of a player, and now a player himself “A club like Rangers makes it easy to be involved. Everyone is so welcoming, it’s a great environment for a young man and people to be involved in. At the end of the day, all of Kester’s life I’ve really enjoyed seeing the happiness that is brought to his life by being involved in sport, like the other day when he stepped up to save a penalty I was just thinking… ‘Come on mate, save it, come on mate save it…’ for no other reason than the pleasure I get out of seeing the satisfaction he gets out of saving a penalty or playing well in general.”
Kester is planning on sticking around Melbourne for a while, taking time off from his Analytics degree to focus on gaining some life experience within the banking sector. Dave though is wanting to move closer to Melbourne and is currently in the middle of building a new home in Malsmbury (95km North of Melbourne). ‘Yeah I’m really looking forward to the build finishing, it will halve my travel time to home games in half! (2 hours to 1 hour drive). “The thing that stuck out for me seeing Kester beginning at this club, was how much he wanted to play. The moment he joined this club he felt like had something to offer, and that he could improve and grow here. It’s refreshing that there’s an environment where young men are embraced and made to feel welcome. He’s changed a little in his time in Melbourne, but I think that his time at Rangers has helped to underline his strengths”.
“In his time at the club, Kester has started to grow into a fine young man and I’m proud to call him my son”
I had to ask both the incendiary question with our chat coming to an end ‘Who’s the better keeper, father or son?’. A silence fills the air for a couple of seconds longer than I had anticipated, Kester begins to answer politely which is his nature “Well, it all comes down to experience and Dad has a lot of…” “It’s definitely, Kester” chimes in Dave, and while I was disappointed, I didn’t get a funny soundbite for the two arguing about this question, it is completely in line with their character of the thoughtful son and the proud father. It feels silly to almost write that question and expect that it would be answered in any other way. “Kester has grown a lot in these past years, but it’s reflective of the club over the time that I’ve been here. The club must take a lot of credit for what it has achieved, bucking the trend of other sports clubs and actually growing during the unease of the pandemic and really showing they are inclusive place with the founding of their all-abilities team”. Kester remarked on his Dad’s spectacular penalty save on the weekend “Dad saved a penalty on the weekend, where’s his senior call up? Is he going to send me down the rung of keepers?”.
This was a natural segue for me to drive the conversation in the direction of the future, and asked Kester if he had designs on playing at a higher level then Sunday league football. “I’ve never seen myself at any other club, I remember starting here and thinking to myself that my goal was to make the senior team and while it wasn’t a massive focus for me, I just wanted to improve my overall game and if I achieved that outcome as well, then great. I feel like for me, I want to improve my ability to shot-stop and rush out and make saves. Bill has really improved my ball control in his time here and my ability to make passes, which I may not have done in the past. I also feel like coaching has an appeal for me, I often think in games about the tactical and strategic side of how it is progressing and think ‘What would I do as coach do to change this situation’. Dave had his ideas on how he’d like to see the social side of the game be reintroduced to the club after the difficulties of COVID in seasons 2020 and 2021. “I’d love to see the guys get together outside of football, it’s what makes clubs really. A couple of guys and I popped into the pub after our last game and got to know each other a bit better, it was great. You start to become friends who share a lot more together than just playing on the same field.” Kester shared his dad’s optimism for the clubs future, stating “I agree with dad, and it would be great to have regular score updates, the social committee building out more and different types of events and the start of a junior/youth team. These sorts of opportunities will help the future young people at the club to feel welcome, and were formative experiences for me”.
This was a very fun story to write on behalf of the Rangers Wrap Blog, it’s so obvious to see that Kester and Dave share a special bond that has been strengthened further as a result of playing together. Reflecting on this relationship reminded me of why this club was started 6 years ago, to provide a welcoming and inclusive football space where people can come to grow together.
I once read a beautiful quote that I feel sums up for me Kester and Dave’s relationship. ‘For thousands of years, father and son have stretched wistful hands across the canyon of time – Alan Valentine’. This year has the feelings to me of being a very special point in the canyon of time, and it has been my pleasure to bring you this story and play a small role in this relationship.
Up the Rangers!