By Chris Slavin
Former England international John Salako and ex-Dons defender Rhys Weston were among 80 guests in attendance at a fantastic launch of the AFC Wimbledon Business Club.
Merton Council Leader Stephen Alambritis gave a speech at the event, before representatives from over 20 businesses were brought together at New Wimbledon Theatre.
AFC Wimbledon Commercial Director Ivor Heller said: “We’ve got a wide range of people here, including electricians, entrepreneurs, club sponsors, and representatives from multi-million pound businesses. John Salako has just joined us and he will soon come to realise the power of what we do as a community club. It’s not just about the football – though it is a pivotal part of everything we do – it is also about our work in the community.
“The business club is about people coming together to enjoy something in common. It’s about two things; football and the community. These two things can make a huge difference. The AFC Wimbledon Foundation is getting stronger by the day and we work very hard on a match day, on our school programmes, and working with people with physical and mental disabilities. We also work closely with charities, such as the Paul Strank Charitable Trust.
“I want to emphasise that we try to do everything with a smile on our face. We try to make people comfortable in our company. When people meet our players we want them to feel that they are down to earth and not your stereotypical footballers. The Business Club is all about these things. It’s not just about the standard networking that normally goes on at these type of events. We want people to enjoy coming to our events and that atmosphere will breed business. Our club will therefore do better as a result.”
Last night’s event kicked off at the Piano Bar with fantastic Italian delicacies, courtesy of Vallebona, and tasty drinks servings from Myatt’s Fields Cocktails. With the event underway, business club members were addressed in speeches by Ivor Heller, New Wimbledon Theatre Manager Neil Chandler, Hotel Planner Founder Tim Hentschel and Stephen Alambritis.
Nathan from Hotel Planner even brought along the cup that his company won in a national football competition!
Former Crystal Palace winger John Salako was delighted to sign-up and he expressed his admiration for the Wimbledon story in an interview at the event.
“I was lucky enough to be introduced to Ivor by a friend,” said John. “We had lunch together a couple of times and we clicked straight away. I am in business finance now and I wanted the opportunity to be a part of the club and meet people involved with AFC Wimbledon. The football club is at the heart of its community and the best part about the club is its honesty and transparency. As a fans club, it gives something back to the community. I know all about the story of Wimbledon coming through the leagues and I’m delighted that they are going to make a film about it all.”
An entertaining after-party last night involved moving on to Smash Bar for extended fun, drinks and a bit of Ping Pong. Despite one or two fiercely competitive matches, business relationships were formed for years to come!
If you are interested in signing up to the AFC Wimbledon Club or for more information, contact Pietro Palladino at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Watch out soon for a video all about the AFCW Business Club launch.