01/03/2024

Kaz Patafta was announced as Brisbane Roar CEO in July (Image supplied by Brisbane Roar)

Brisbane Roar have made a positive start to the new A-League season, with both their men’s and women’s teams in the top six of their respective divisions ahead of this weekend’s home double-header at Suncorp Stadium. 

That marks progress for the Queensland club, who failed to achieve the playoffs in either competition last season. While there has been significant improvement on the pitch, the biggest changes seem to have eventuated off it. 

The employment of new CEO Kaz Patafta in July has been followed by a raft of new appointments, with the former Newcastle Jet making waves in his first few months. 

New DNA

The first noticeable change Patafta made was relieving General Manager Ante Kovacevic of his duties within weeks of taking charge. It was a decision that proved controversial, as alluded to by the CEO is his statement to fans in October.  

It is clear that a change of culture is high on the agenda for the Roar, with Patafta telling The inner Sanctum they are on the path to improving the culture of the club.  

“Our club is on a journey to reshape and rebuild,” he tells The Inner Sanctum.  

“The first step on that journey involves making sure we have the right people that fit our re-energised culture and share our ambition for a high-performing environment and club.”

Formerly an Australian youth international, it’s not surprising Patafta wants to rebuild the Brisbane Roar around youth. 

“We are seeking to define our DNA as a club upon nurturing and developing the next generation of football talent,” he says. 

This was the approach Brisbane went with in their recent men’s game against Wellington Phoenix with six players in their starting line-up aged 25 or under. 

The team’s subsequent 5-2 defeat in New Zealand’s windy city – their only one to date – is perhaps indicative of the need to move cautiously with this policy. Veterans Jay O’Shea and captain Tom Aldred will surely have a major role to play for the Roar this season, adding experience to the side.

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Female focus

Roar’s A-League women have also seen change over recent weeks, with Garrath McPherson replaced by Alex Smith as head coach.  

Smith’s first game in charge saw Brisbane lose 1-0 to Western United on Sunday. The ex-Melbourne City assistant coach will be keen to get his first victory under his belt when they take on the winless Adelaide United at home.  

After a two-year absence from finals football, Patafta has set the standard for his side.  

“The expectations for our Liberty A-League women’s side are high, as is our focus and commitment to increasing and improving the support and resources for the women’s team,” he says.  

It could be a shrewd move given the interest generated in the women’s game in Australia by the recent Women’s World Cup on home soil; especially given that memorable Matildas’ penalty shootout victory over France in the quarterfinal was secured in the Roar’s home stadium of Suncorp. 

Achieving a Liberty A-League play-off berth will surely be the aim for Brisbane’s women this season, allowing the club to further capitalise on the boom in Australian women’s football. 

Football people

With numerous changes at the club in recent weeks, it may have gone unnoticed by the Roar fanbase that Patafta and his new Chief Operating Officer Zac Anderson are football people who know the game from their own playing days. 

“Zac and I have over 15 years of experience each within the professional football realm and outside of the game within the corporate sector,” Patafta says. 

“As a result, we are fortunate to have a great network, but also a good insight into who is culturally aligned to our club’s values and what skills they can offer.” 

Anderson himself played pro-football, with a career that included stints at Central Coast Mariners and Sydney FC amongst others. He is also a Queenslander, having played his junior football at Queensland Academy of Sport and Brisbane City.

So, after a busy opening period at the helm of Queensland’s only A-league representative, should Roar fans expect even more changes from Patafta and his team in the coming months?

“We have great people at Brisbane Roar and don’t expect any major changes in the short-term,” he says.

“That said, we will continue to reassess and adjust as needed. We want to ensure we have the best leadership and best people to optimise our opportunity for success.” 

It’s a diplomatic answer and one the demonstrates his business acumen, as well as his desire for success. 

As ever in football, it will be results on the pitch that determine how the new regime at Suncorp will be judged. 

However, after years of treading water since the halcyon days of Ange Postecoglou and two Grand Final wins, having football people in charge of the club is a refreshing change for Brisbane Roar fans. 

It’s too early to say whether this will lead to the Roar returning to the summit of Australian football, but the impression so far is that the new leadership are not going to die wondering…

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