RIP Peter Dimopoulos, a great servant of Australia
PETER Dimopoulos, who was one of WA football's hardest-working and most committed coaches and administrators, died on August 23 at the age of 90.
Just a month earlier he had been saluted by the Australian Army for his services as an interpreter during World War 11 when he was a prisoner of the Japanese in Singapore and later in Thailand from 1942 until 1945.
Apart from his high profile in WA fotball, Peter was a much respected figure in the State when it came to his war service.
He was ANZAC of the Year in 2013 when his image appeared on the sides of Transperth buses around Perth - and he was one of five Australians to represent the Australian Army at a ceremony held at the Kranji War Memorial in Singapore in 2012.
Peter was treasurer of the Serpentine/Jarrahdale RSL branch, a body which he helped found.
Ric Giblett, president of the RSL's Serpentine-Jarrahdale sub-branch, said Peter's language skills were invaluable during his imprisonment and again during war crimes trials in Papua New Guinea, where he worked as an interpreter.
"Peter's incarceration at the hands of the Japanese was both brutal and long-suffering but, despite this, his first thoughts were for his fellow soldiers, using his self-taught language skills to rescue them from life-threatening situations within the POW camps," Mr Giblett said.
The State president of the the WA RSL Graham Edwards also paid tribute, saying: “Peter was simply one of the best, an outstanding and committed RSL member who earlier this year was also recognised by the Commander of Special Operations in Australia for his work as a soldier and POW interpreter.”
Peter was born in Greece and emigrated to Australia at age 11, settling initially in Port Augusta and then Adelaide. He joined the army when he was 16 and chose to make Perth his home when he returned to Australia in 1947.
He linked up as a player with several local football teams, including Perth Corinthians, Balmoral, Perth City and South Perth.
He turned to coaching in 1960, looking after Subiaco's juniors and then becoming secretary of the Junior Soccer Federation.
He then coached Fremantle Dalmatinac and Olympic before, in 1974, becoming involved with the fledgling Women's Soccer Association. He led the State team to success in the Australian championships in Brisbane in 1975 and was made president of the body in 1976.
He was president of the Professional Soccer League for a brief spell before becoming kit manager of the Perth Kangaroos team in their venture into Asia in 1995, when they won the Singapore League.
Peter was inducted into the WA Hall of Fame in 1996, and became a valued member of the Committee in 2002, along with his wife Barbara Gibson until his retirement late last year.
Hall of Fame chairman Louis Prospero said: "It was with deep sadness that I heard of Peter's death. He was valued member of the Committee and will be remembered for many years to come."
WA's leading football historian, Richard Kreider, also paid tribute to Peter and traced his career, saying: "When he was a youngster in South Australia he used to kick a tennis ball around the school square, but he later played junior football at the Northumberland and Durham club before signing up for the Merchant Navy, which brought him to WA in 1941.
"Peter then enlisted with the Army and, between his service commitments, he would play football against Perth clubs.
"Even when he was incarcerated during the war he would play football and organised inter-camp contests involving predominatly English and Dutch prisoners. His team won every game and as a 'prize' the Japanese base commandere rewarded them with a cow, which Peter said was almost as anorexic as the prisoners."
*THERE was a big turn-out from the WA football community and from branches of the RSL to pay tribute to Peter at his funeral at Fremantle Cemetery on August 31. RSL president Graham Edwards was there as was Ric Giblett, who read an emotional Ode (We will Remember Them) following a stirring rendition of the Last Post.
Hall of Fame Legend Sandra Brentnall, who had been coached by Peter in women's football since she was 12, said it was a sad day. "Peter was very influential on my career," she added. "He was a remarkable man who led an amazing life. We will all miss him." Five other members of the women's State team were also in attendance. There, too, were Hall of Fame legends Gary Marocchi and Ron Adair, who travelled from his home in the South-West, and Hall of Fame Patron Julian Burt and Committee chairman Louis Prospero, Former World Cup referee Eddie Lennie represented Football West.
PIC ONE: Peter at the 20th Anniversary of the Perth Kangaroos. PIC TWO: Peter at a reunion with some of the women footballers he coached to glory. PIC THREE: Peter is honoured by the Australian Army.