Colin Miller, Craig Parry among Sunshine’s best sporting stars

From Socceroo legends to cricket cult figures, Sunshine has been the home to several professional athletes. See the full list.

The sporting pedigree to emerge from Sunshine dates back as far as the 1950s.

The residential suburb based 12km west of Melbourne’s CBD has had athletes from a wide variety of sports including soccer, boxing, golf, cricket, AFL and more.

From five-time world champion boxer Lester Ellis to 23-time golfing professional winner Craig Parry, the suburb in the Brimbank municipality has been the home to some prominent sporting names.

See the full list of sporting stars to come from Sunshine.

Joskun Aziz (VFA)

A VFA full forward who won a premiership with Williamstown in 1990. Aziz was also a Footscray reserve and under-19 player who built a cult following. He also captained Werribee in the VFL.

Jenk Behic (Boxing)

A Commonwealth, South Pacific and two-time Australian Champion, Jenk ‘The Great White Shark’ Behic trained at the West Sunshine Community Centre at Team Ultimate under John Scida as the trainer.

Chris Burton (AFL/VFL)

Burton played more than 100 games in the VFL career for Footscray and Richmond. He played for local club Sunshine Heights in both football and cricket before Footscray recruited him out of the club based at Ainsworth Reserve in Sunshine West. The defender-wingman lived close to the Ainsworth and was a batting all-rounder on the cricketing field who won four junior premierships. In 1987, he was Richmond‘s leading disposal getter, with 360 kicks and 78 handballs. Burton was also a member of the Williamstown VFA 1990 premiership side. He played 67 games for Richmond and 50 for Footscray.

Where he lived: Glengala Road

Chris Christopolis (Boxing)

Christopolis was an Australian Heavyweight Champion and K-1 Contender. He trained with John Scida at Team Ultimate at the West Sunshine Community Centre. Christopolis was also known as godzilla.


Jack Collins (Cricket)

Collins was a Australia cricket umpire who officiated five Test matches, an ODI and 50 state matches in the late 60s and 70s. He was a life member of the Victorian Cricket Umpires and Scorers Association and lived in Sunshine. Collins was invited by Kerry Packer to be one of the first four umpires in World series Cricket.

Tony Dodemaide (Cricket)

The current Australian cricket selector and former Test cricketer lived in Sunshine West and attended school at Sunshine Heights Primary. He also went to kindergarten with Colin Miller in Sunshine. Before becoming an Australian cricket selection panel member, Dodemaide was the chief executive of Western Australia and Victoria. In his playing 15-year playing career between 1983 and 1998, Dodemaide took 534 first-class wickets for Victoria and Sussex. He also took five-fa’s in both his Australian Test and ODI debuts.

Where he lived: Mailey St.

Lester Ellis (Boxer)

The England-born light welterweight boxer was a five-time world champion boxer through the late 80s and early 90s. His feats included an Australian and two Commonwealth titles. Before becoming a professional, Ellis migrated to Australia in 1968 as a three-year-old and attended Sunshine West High School and trained at the Glengala Boxing Club with Graeme Brook. He held a career record of 41 wins and eight loses with 28 of his wins coming by knockout.

Where he lived: Barnes Crescent

Joanne Falzon (Boxing)

A former Australian and World Champion who trained with John Scida at Team Ultimate in Sunshine West.

Peter Hatzoglou (Cricket)

The Australian cricketer has won two Big Bash titles with Perth Scorchers and played more than 30 professional matches in his career so far. Hatzoglou has represented Melbourne Renegades and Perth Scorchers in the Big Bash, South Australia in the Cricket Australia domestic competition and the Oval Invincibles in UK’s Hundred competition. The leg-spinner grew up in Sunshine West and attended school at Sunshine Heights Primary. He played junior and senior cricket at Sunshine Heights and also held roles as coach, committee member, secretary and vice-president at the club. The 24-year-old has taken 34 wickets from his first 30 T20 matches.

Where he lived: Hall St

Will Hoskin-Elliott (AFL)

The Sunshine born Hoskin-Elliott has played 181 games in his AFL career to date. He was drafted to GWS in 2012 and played in their inaugural season before moving to Collingwood in 2017 where he has since notched 129 games. The 29-year-old played for North Sunshine in the WRFL where he kicked 223 goals in 106 games. He kicked 66 goals in the 2005 season where he won the Under-12 Division 3 best and fairest award that year. He won the same award three years later in the Under 16 Division 2 competition. He then represented the Western Jets in the pathway program before being drafted.

Peter Howe (AFL umpire)

Howe was an AFL umpire who is believed to have taught at Sunshine Technical School.

Lorenz Kindtner (Soccer)

Before a career which featured almost a decade in Belgium, Kindtner grew up in Sunshine West and played juniors at the local club Sunshine Heights Junior Soccer Club. He represented Australia and played NSL with Sunshine George Cross and Richmond FC. He also made 113 appearances for Western Suburbs in the Victoria State League.

Where he lived: Dinnell St

Steve Kliszewski (Cricket)

Kliszewski was a top order bat who played with Merv Hughes and Tony Dodemaide at Footscray in Victoria District cricket. He played 60 first XI games for the Footscray. He was represented Sunshine Heights and was in their team of the century before moving to district cricket. He was a coach of the local club and premiership player. Kliszewski was also a talented footballer who played in the Footscray Football League.

Lydia Lassila (Freestyle skier)

The freestyle skier, who won a gold medal in the 2010 Winter Olympics for aerials, completed her primary schooling at Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Primary School in Sunshine. Lassila also lived in the area. She won a bronze medal in the aerials event in the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games.

Ossie Latif (Soccer)

The NSL striker played for Sunshine George Cross and Footscray Just through the 80s and 90s. He was a junior at Sunshine Heights and went to Sunshine Technical School.

Peter Magafas (cricket)

Magafas played for Footscray in the Victorian District competition. He went up the grades from Fourth to First XI grade in his first season at the club as a 16-year-old. He was the first to achieve the feat in the club’s history. Magafas played with the likes of Merv Hughes, Colin ‘Funky’ Miller and Tony Dodemaide at Footscray. He was a junior cricketer at Sunshine Heights.

Where he lived: Cawood Drive

John Markovski (Soccer)

The Australian soccer player renowned for his free kicks grew up on Fremont Parade in Sunshine West. Markovski made 19 appearances for Australia and was a prevalent player in the NSL where he represented Sunshine George Cross, Preston Lions, Morwell Falcons, Canberra Cosmos, Auckland Kingz, Carlton SC, Melbourne Knights and Perth Glory FC. Markovski is now the current coach of NPL Victoria side Altona Magic. He was educated at Ardeer High School and won the Victorian school soccer championships in a team full of state league players. Markovski played at Sunshine Heights Junior Soccer Club in his teenage years.

Where he lived: Fremont Parade

Colin Miller (Cricket)

Miller played 18 Tests for Australia between 1998 and 2001. He famously dyed his hair blue in a Test match against the West Indies in 2001. Miller took 69 wickets from 18 Test matches. He took 446 wickets from 126 first-class matches for Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania. Miller, otherwise known as ‘funky’, was an off-spin bowler who could also bowl right-arm medium pace. He played his junior cricket at Sunshine Heights and also baseball for Sunshine. He attended Sunshine West High School and Sunshine Heights Primary. His father Ralph is a life member of Sunshine Heights Cricket Club and his brother Wayne is the current coach of the VTCA club. Miller currently lives in Las Vegas. He won Australian Test Player of the Year in 2001. Miller made his test debut in his 30s and didn’t take up spin bowling until his mid 20s.

Keith Miller (Cricket and VFL)

Miller played 55 Test matches for Australia and 226 first-class games for Victoria and New South Wales. He also played 50 VFL games for St Kilda. The dual sporting star grew up in Sunshine and attended Sunshine Primary School. At age seven, the family moved out of their home in Sunshine and moved to Elsternwick in the eastern suburbs. The Sunshine born sportsman scored seven test hundreds and took seven five-fa’s. Miller’s career was interrupted by World War II where he served in the army reserve. He bowled right arm fast in cricket and was a full back and full forward in footy.

Where he lived: Benjamin Street

Jeff Olver (Soccer)

Olver played for Heidelberg United and Melbourne Croatia in the NSL. The goalkeeper represented the Socceroos on 37 occasions and is one of the best goalkeepers the country has ever produced. He was a part of the Australian team that made the Quarter Final of the 1988 Seoul Olympic Football Tournament. Olver played cricket and soccer for Sunshine Heights. He was educated at Sunshine Heights Primary and Sunshine West High School. He is currently working as a coach with Heidelberg United in the NPL.

Where he lived: Glengala Road

Craig Parry (Golfer)

The Sunshine born and bred golfer had 23 victories in his professional career and is one of Australia’s best ever golfers. Parry had 12 of his professional wins come on the PGA Tour of Australasia. His first ever win as a pro came in 1987 at the New South Wales Open. Parry came close to winning a golf major when he came third in the U.S. Open in 1993. Overall, the former Sunshine United cricketer had three top 10 finishes and ten top 25 finishes in his major championship career. He also designed the Mt Derrimut Golf and Community Club course formerly known as the Sunshine Golf Club.

Mendo Ristovski (Soccer)

Ristovski played for Footscray Just in the NSL and made two appearances for Australia. He played as a midfielder.

Xavier Tanner (VFL)

Tanner played 100 games for North Melbourne and was a part of the famous 1977 premiership where they drew the first grand final and won the replay. It was the second ever reply in the game’s history. The midfielder was among the best players in the grand final. He also played 11 games for Melbourne. Following his career, he taught at Ardeer High School.

Andrew Taylor (VFL)

Taylor played in the Footscray District League with Albion as a junior and won three best and fairest awards. He then played for Footscray in their Under-19 team and broke into the senior team in the 1983 VFL season. Taylor represented Brisbane Bears on 31 occasions. He competed in the little athletics in Sunshine West as a youngster.

Anthony Vella (Boxing)

It is believed Vella had 20 fights in his Australian Muay Thai fighting career and only lost one against Paul ‘The Hurricane’ Briggs for a super-middleweight world title. Valla was trained by John Scida who won a Victorian karate title.

Charlie Yankos (Soccer)

The Football Australia Hall of Famer grew up on Fremont Parade in Sunshine West. Yankos lived 50m down the road from fellow Socceroo John Markovski. Yankos played 136 games for Heidelberg United in the NSL and made 49 appearances for Australia, including 30 as captain. He scored seven goals for the Socceroos. Yankos also played for PAOK in the Greek professional football league. Yankos is one of four Socceroos to come from Sunshine who all lived within a kilometre of each other. The four were Yankos, Markovski, Kindtner and Olver.

Where he lived: Fremont Parade

Originally published as Lester Ellis, Colin Miller, Craig Parry among Sunshine’s best sporting stars

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