A tiny Greek football club based in London was selected for the first time in its history to play in the prestigious FA Cup in the 2021-22 season.
St. Panteleimon Football Club which grew out of the Greek Orthodox community in England, was started in 2015 and initially competed at the Cypriot Football League of London, known as KOPA.
Historic news for us at @StPanteleimonFC
— St. Panteleimon F.C. (@StPanteleimonFC) July 2, 2021
Its first manager was Gary Karsa, who was previously the assistant manager at Aston Villa, a team in the Premier League, England’s top professional league. The team is now led by George Frantzeskou.
St. Panteleimon is a club that believes in putting its Greek Orthodox community front and center, with their motto being “Faith First.”
“The vision of St. Panteleimon Football Club is to develop, build and maintain a high quality, transparent and holistic program that provides a quality sporting and social environment where everyone feels welcome to participate and has a strong and proud association with its Community.
“To provide also an inspirational and motivational environment where preparation, practice and hard work generate legitimate opportunities for success, while emphasising the importance and development of fundamentals and techniques necessary for positive experiences in football and in life, creating a consistently exciting and entertaining program that generates a wave of support, pride, and tradition for our entire Community to share,” their website reads.
The club’s name is the romanized version of Saint Panteleon, who was a holy martyr during the Diocletianic Persecution of 305 A.D. The Dicoletianic Persecution is also known as the Great Persecution, and was the last persecution of Christians during the Roman Empire. Christians had their rights stripped from them and were forced to discontinue their religious practices and convert to Roman traditions.
There is debate over whether St. Panteleon actually existed or whether the narrative of his life as a martyr was only legendary. A historic monastery in Cyprus was later named after the romanized St. Panteleimon.
The FA Cup is a huge step for the Greek club
The Football Association Cup is an 152 year old competition open to clubs from any level of the English Football League System. The English football league has ten levels, in order of rank: Level 1, the Premier League, Levels 2-4, the English Football League, and Levels 5-10, the National League System.
The FA Cup gives smaller football clubs like Panteleimon the chance to gain more exposure by facing off with top professional clubs, potentially staging an upset that can draw new fans and recognition to the team.
The competition is conducted throughout the football season, starting in August and ending in May. The FA announced the 2021-22 Cup along with the Vitality Women’s FA Cup last week:
“The Emirates FA Cup, which will be celebrating its 150th anniversary, is due to kick-off on Saturday 7 August 2021 with its extra preliminary round.
The Final is planned to take place at the home of English football on Saturday 14 May 2022 and the Premier League has announced that its fixtures on this date have been re-scheduled to ensure a standalone kick-off time.
And the Vitality Women’s FA Cup is currently celebrating its 50th anniversary with the delayed 2020-21 competition set to be completed at Wembley Stadium on Sunday 5 December 2021.”