More than three decades after beginning a globe-trotting soccer career in Tasmania, David Clarkson is coming home to oversee the sport's next step forward in the state.
An extensive career saw Clarkson play professionally on three continents and reach the heights of the FIFA World Club Cup in Brazil, but the former Hobart schoolboy's next mission is somewhat closer to home as the Tasmanian ambassador for Western United's upcoming A-League fixtures in Launceston.
"Having played all of my junior football in Tasmania, I am in a unique position to understand the challenges and, at times, frustrations of the state being overlooked," he said.
"I see this as a wonderful opportunity for all Tasmanians to embrace Western United as their own and look forward to seeing them at UTAS stadium on April 17 and 22 for what is sure to be a celebration of the 'beautiful game' in our beautiful state."
English-born Clarkson learned soccer in Tasmania before moving on to the Australian Institute of Sport (1986-87). A hard-running midfielder, he went on to play more than 200 games in the former National Soccer League including back-to-back championships with South Melbourne. He also played for Brighton and Hove Albion in England (1991-93) and Happy Valley FC and South China in Asia (1993-96).
He has since coached in the Victorian Premier League and with junior national teams at two World Cups while also working in TV and radio, consulting with the likes of Football Australia, Football Victoria and Football Tasmania and serving as an executive committee member with Professional Footballers Australia.
Clarkson was behind Tasmania's push to be included in the A-League and believes the two upcoming Western United fixtures at UTAS Stadium can demonstrate the state's growing appetite for the sport.
"I look forward to working with Football Tasmania chief executive Matt Bulkeley as we continue to grow the state's most played team sport and also creating a clear and sustainable pathway for boys and girls to follow their dreams of playing football at the highest level with Western United's academy and elite programs," he said.
Melbourne-based Clarkson, who has been instrumental in increasing soccer participation in Victoria, said his role will include driving commercial outcomes for the upcoming matches; working with Football Tasmania and the Tasmanian government to develop elite pathways; and coordinating activities during the football festival surrounding the two fixtures.
A-League at UTAS
- Saturday, April 17, 5.05pm Western United v Central Coast Mariners
- Thursday, April 22, 7.05pm Western United v Wellington Phoenix