Macarthur FC is working to up its game in community engagement in 2023. (Photo: Macarthur FC)

After a season heavily affected by the COVID pandemic, Macarthur FC is engaging with its fans to increase its off-field presence across Sydney's south-west.

A-Leagues club Macarthur FC is beginning to take all the right steps off-field to increase its fan and community engagement.

Basically everything that could go wrong did in the 2021-22 season for the league’s newest team. Yet to know life without the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the club has struggled to find its feet off field.

Making finals and winning their first ever against the Central Coast Mariners in 2020-21 was underscored by a competition second lowest average attendance of 3532. This dropped to the lowest this season with 3023 average attendees per game.

Though dropping off in the second half of the season and finishing seventh, the Bulls were undoubtedly putting out an entertaining and successful product in the early part of 2021-22.

Players like Ulises Davila and Lachie Rose should have been pulling big crowds in, but the odds were stacked against the Bulls, and the A-Leagues as a whole.

Campbelltown Stadium was deemed unsafe to the play for Macarthur’s Round 1 home game against Newcastle, causing the game to be moved. The club assured that it had not been made aware of the pitch condition by the council.

As COVID began to spread rapidly through clubs and the community again, inconsistent fixturing and rescheduled games swept across the league.

The Bulls wouldn’t return to Campbelltown for a month, and were unable to play any games at all across January. Six mid week games across the remainder of the fixture made life incredibly hard for families wishing to attend.

Enter the Macarthur Grassroots Membership. The club has been proactive in the 2022-23 pre-season, looking to quickly re-engage the south-west Sydney community with A-Leagues football.

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In the new initiative, 2022 Macarthur Football Association participants who are 12 years or under will receive a free full season membership.

“We want the next generation to get involved with the competition and look to our players as role models,” Bulls Group CEO Sam Krslovic explained.

“It’s important that we use our platform to give back to the community and create experiences that everyone enjoys.”

And it’s a move that’s already resonating with fans.

The Inner Sanctum spoke to Macarthur fan Dave Morgan about the announcement, and the general fan reaction to the news.

Morgan and his young family are residents of the Macarthur area, including his son who plays for a local under 10s team. The news has resonated strongly with him and the other parents of the community.

“From my side of things, it’s a fantastic initiative,” Morgan said.

“We’re foundation members of the club, the four of us. Last year was terrible with COVID, and a lot of people don’t understand the impact around the Macarthur area, it was pretty brutal. It affected crowds a fair bit.”

It isn’t the first step that the club has taken to reach the local football community, he continued.

“Towards the end of last season, they held a community day… and invited all the clubs from the MFA, the Macarthur Football Assocation, to come out and had the kids come onto the fields at half time and represent their clubs.

“I was in the stand that day and my son chucked his jersey on and ran onto the field. You felt this really positive vibe around the place. There were all these kids that were just enjoying themselves, and enjoying being a part of something.

A recent Macarthur FC holiday clinic. (Photo: Macarthur FC)

“I don’t know if that’s been a driver of this or not, but seeing those kids able to feel part of the club and feel special being on the field, was an incredible moment for them.

“I think that that’s part of the reason why they’re trying to engage further. This initiative is going to be fantastic to bring people into the club.”

With a more family-friendly approach and a consistent fixture, this season is Macarthur’s chance to turn on-field success into so much more.

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