The round ball game pioneering again with the launch of Women in Football

Women in Football

The mere fact that groups and associations with an intention to promote inclusivity even exist, says a lot about their importance.

Without awareness, action and activism things rarely change. Just as an acute and improved understanding of the complex issues surrounding men’s mental health and the newfound and fitting determination to address violence against women are important and poignant challenges in a modern and well-functioning western democracy, the empowerment of women in sport is critical.

For some time there has been something of a comfortable status quo in existence, where more and more women have become involved in organised competitive sport, yet their self-determination within it has remained limited.

Much back-patting and congratulatory sentiment has circled around increased participation and success in women’s sport, however, it has stopped well short of allowing women to become more involved in informing and driving the briskly developing and ever changing narrative.

As is so often the case, the metaphor of football can be a catalyst for change.

June saw the Matildas showcased on the world’s biggest footballing stage in a dramatic World Cup Round of 16 loss to Norway. The fervent energy and enthusiasm around the team saw thousands travel to and focus on France and the gripping group matches against Italy, Brazil and Jamaica.

Television viewership around the globe skyrocketed, achieving astronomical numbers in comparison to previous tournaments and the standard of both the individual and team play was impressive.

Yet just 37.5% of those charged with leading their squads into battle in a managerial/coaching role were women. That is testament to an ingrained perception and existing infrastructure that still sees women’s sport as something of a novelty, an add on if you will.

Achieving a stand-alone identity without the need for delineation between the sexes when discussing competitive play is sporting nirvana. It is also something that needs to and will, be achieved.

Australian football has made its stand on the issue with the formation of the Women in Football Association.

NSW Minister for Sport, the Hon John Sidoti MP launched the initiative at Parliament house last Wednesday. The FFA has given its full endorsement and aims to work collaboratively with and in support of the new group.

FFA Chairman Chris Nikou categorically verbalised that support. “From my perspective, anything that encourages and supports more women to get involved in our game, the better,” he said.

The Women in Football Association has similarities to the United Kingdom’s model, with aims to promote and support gender equality. That not only means a continued effort to expose young girls to the game and encourage participation but also to establish a network of connectivity that benefits players, coaches and officials alike.

Women in Football President and international football reform advocate Bonita Mersiades cited the long standing “under-representation of women in football”, even though it was a sport that attracted women of all ages at all levels as volunteers, administrators, players and fans.

Mersiades and her fellow committee members are unified in their belief that a national association with a focus on “networking, collaboration and professional development from grassroots up, is long overdue”.

The committee has eight members and a considerable and divergent group it is. The secretary of Brunswick Zebras Carole Fabian, President of South Hobart FC Vicki Morton and the director of Heartbeat of Football Elia Santoro are three respected voices in the game.

CEO of the Alannah and Madeline Foundation Lesley Podesta, journalist George Donikian and Western Sydney University Associate Professor Jorge Knijnik also bring an array of skills and knowledge to the committee.

The eighth member is former Matildas coach Alen Stajcic, a man with potentially as much knowledge as anyone when it comes to the inner workings of the women’s game.

Not only will Women in Football support the players, managers and the peripheral women in the game, it will also compile a definitive and accessible professional contact list, in an attempt to advocate for increased employment opportunities for female football professionals.

That network aims to provide federations with a resource to identify suitably qualified women, appoint them and address the existing imbalance via improved professional development and opportunity.

It looms as a ground breaking initiative, both for the women and girls involved in the game as well as Australian football in general.

The journey to true inclusivity and equality continues, with Women in Football now likely to accelerate that rate of change and advance the women’s game another step in the short to medium term.

Membership of the Association is just $25, open to men and women and the relevant details can be found at womeninfootball.org.au.

Registrations now open for Go Football

Whether you’ve just completed a soccer season in the winter or are a more casual player, Go Football is designed to bring the best of both together and unite those with a passion for the game, regardless of skill level.

In an initiative run by Football Victoria, Go Football is a form of the game that focuses on the fun and social aspects and being able to go out and enjoy the game more.

The beauty of Go Football is that anyone can give it a go, as there are different formats for all ages and abilities.

Competitions are run all year round, so whether you’re a casual player or coming off a long winter season, the more relaxed environment is welcoming for everyone. As fitness and fun are combined, it helps encourage people to stay active.

Another unique aspect of Go Football is that matches are played on smaller pitches and with less players, meaning those on field get more chances to touch the ball.

You can choose to participate in 5-a-side or 7-a-side competitions and in addition, Football Victoria offer Go Camps to improve skills and Go Events to be part of.

As you can see, Go Football meets the needs of anyone willing to take the part in the game. It’s a great way for friends and family to get together and socialise while playing the game they love.

To learn more about Go Football, and to find the right program and location for you, visit https://www.gofootball.com.au/

Football Queensland announce reformed junior NPL competition

Last Friday, Football Queensland announced that there junior NPL competition would be reformed from 2020 and beyond.

The reformed system would integrate grading to ensure teams would play against opposition of a similar caliber. This is clearly aimed at achieving a higher level of fairness and equality in the junior system.

Soccer is not the only sport in which some teams are unfairly pitted against sides much stronger than themselves. It happens frequently in cricket, Australian rules football and basketball.

It’s great to see Football QLD taking necessary action to make positive change and to retain juniors in the sport for longer.

The full press release can be found below:

Following the decoupling of the National Premier League (NPL) Queensland and the Football Queensland Premier League junior competitions and recently announced changes to the naming convention, Football Queensland (FQ) in conjunction with the Technical Working Group has developed a framework and model to appropriately determine the ranking of NPL junior clubs from 1-24.

A comprehensive technical audit has been completed by FQ across the 24 NPL and FQPL clubs. The Technical Working Group developed a number of models and ultimately proposed a hybrid grading model based on the FQ club technical audit score in a weighted formula alongside the total 2019 league points.

The ongoing refinement of the model will consider other agreed data sets that reflect the clubs’ focus on junior player development, and the audit scores will continue to change in the coming weeks as the working group completes its recommendations.

The recommended competition format has been designed based on the guiding principles of ‘like vs like’, ‘best vs best’ and ‘for the good of the game’.

It is intended for FQ to administer the league through a structured pool competition across three distinct phases throughout the season.

The Technical Working Group recommended that clubs ranked 1-6, in addition to the Brisbane Roar 2 Star Academy, should be ring-fenced to compete against each other in the first phase of the competition, in keeping with the proposed direction of the FFA Academy Star Rating system.

The remaining clubs will be allocated across three remaining pools according to their ranked position.

All clubs will participate in the proposed three phases of the league: pre-season, competition and tournament.

  • The pre-season phase of 7 rounds will be used to further validate the hybrid grading model. At the conclusion of this phase two pools of 12 will be formed (NPL Academy and NPL Development) in preparation of the ‘competition’ phase of the season.
  • In the 11 round ‘competition’ phase, the NPL Academy will consist of clubs ranked 1-12 plus the Brisbane Roar Academy, and NPL Development will consist of clubs ranked 13-24 plus the QAS Girls.
  • The ‘tournament’ phase will see competitive matches played with clubs split into four pools based on the principles of ‘best v best’ and ‘like v like’. The pools will then play for the Queensland Cup, Gold, Silver and Bronze Plates respectively.

Further information on the hybrid grading model, league structure and NPL reforms will be announced in the coming weeks.

Details of the Technical Working Group’s deliberations can be found in the minutes of the meetings, which have been released weekly and are available online via https://footballqueensland.com.au/technical-working-group/

Futsalroos return to NSW for friendly

The Australian Men’s Futsal team, the Futsalroos, have had their final preparation ahead of the 2019 Futsal Championships.

It was the first time since 2016 since the team last played, after competing in the 2016 Futsal World Cup in Colombia where they were knocked out in the group stage.

Now, the Futsalroos have completed a warm up match against the Solomon Islands at Valentine Sports Park on an important day as it was Australia’s last chance to see the team live in their country.

With a healthy turnout and live stream provided by Football NSW, the Futsalroos got the required 3-2 win with the support they needed that will see them depart to Vietnam for the 2019 Futsal Championships.

The AFF Futsal Championships serve as a stepping stone towards qualifying for the 2020 AFC Championship, as it’s the next qualifying stage.

The nations that finish in the top 3 places of the AFF Futsal Championships will progress to the 2020 FIFA Futsal World Cup.

This will hopefully be just the beginning of the Futsalroo’s latest tilt on the world stage with the new qualification bid for the World Cup, which has gotten off to winning ways.

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