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AFC announces new competition dates

The Asian Football Confederation has released updated schedules for the restart of the AFC Champions League and the AFC Cup.

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has released updated schedules for the restart of the AFC Champions League and the AFC Cup.

Group stage matches for Groups A-D in the Champions League will be played on September 14-24. Groups E-H will play their matches in October and finish before November 1. The Final of the Champions League is now scheduled for December 5.

AFC Cup group stage matches will start from September 23 and will be finished by November 4. The Final is set for December 12 – the winner will qualify for the Champions League in 2021.

Both the Champions League and AFC Cup will be played in hubs. The locations of the centralised groups will be confirmed by the AFC at a later date.

Group stage matches for both tournaments will be played in full, however finals matches will now be single match ties instead of home and away fixtures.

“The AFC Administration has been in constant dialogue with our Mas (Member Associations), Leagues and Clubs in recent weeks so that we can establish a clear picture of the opportunities that exist in each MA,” Dato’ Windsor John, the AFC General Secretary said.

“I would like to thank all our stakeholders, including our MAs, the Leagues and Clubs as well as our Commercial and Broadcast Partners, once again for their understanding and patience as well as loyalty and commitment to Asian football during what continues to be a difficult and uncertain time in the history of our game.

“Notwithstanding the challenging times, I am delighted that we are seeing more encouraging progress on the return of many domestic Leagues to the field and with them comes an expectation that we can conclude both the AFC Champions League and the AFC Cup in the coming months.”

There are three Australian teams competing in the 2020 AFC Champions League. Melbourne Victory is third in Group E with one win and one loss. Perth Glory is last in Group F with one loss, while Sydney FC sits in third place of Group H with a draw and a loss.

The AFC also announced dates for national team and Futsal tournaments. The U-19 Championship will be played in Uzbekistan between October 14 to 31. The AFC Futsal Championship will be played in Turkmenistan from November 4 to 15.

Daniel Foley is a sports junior journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy and micro industry matters.

New Zealand Football and Good Sports to promote positive youth sporting culture

Good Sports

New Zealand’s national governing football body, New Zealand Football, has teamed up with Good Sports to create positive sporting experiences for children by educating and supporting parents and other adult influencers in youth sport.

A further 15 national and regional sport organisations have signed up to Good Sports, which is an initiative developed by Aktive. This includes nine National Sports Organisations – Badminton NZ, Basketball NZ, Gymnastics NZ, Hockey NZ, Netball NZ, NZ Cricket, NZ Football, Snow Sports NZ, Surf Lifesaving NZ – and six Regional Sports Trusts – Active Southland, Sport Bay of Plenty, Sport Manawatu, Sport Northland, Sport Waikato and Sport Whanganui.

Aktive and Sport NZ will work closely with these organisations to implement Good Sports and develop strategies to better engage and support parents. Good Sports is well aligned with Sport NZ’s ‘Balance is Better’ philosophy and is being used as part of Sport NZ’s national parent approach.

Aktive Chief Executive Jennah Wootten says Balance is Better and Good Sports are complementary and the growing momentum will benefit tamariki, rangatahi and whānau around the country.

“With a number of challenges in children’s sport stemming from adult involvement, Good Sports focuses on raising adults’ awareness about their behaviours and how these impact youth sport. It examines what parents can do differently to ensure children and young people are enjoying sporting experiences,” she said in a statement.

“Together with Sport NZ, we are proud to work with sport organisations to implement Good Sports in their communities. It is fantastic to see the enthusiastic response and the important difference this is making for our tamariki and rangatahi in developing a lifelong love of sport.”

Andy Boyens, Technical Director at New Zealand Football, is excited to join Good Sports and provide even better experiences on and off the pitch.

“NZF are excited to join the Good Sports journey because we know the significant value that our football parents and volunteers give to the development journey of our young people playing the beautiful game across Aotearoa. We want to make sure that those people are well informed and have the knowledge, skill and confidence necessary to support young footballers to enjoy a life long love and enjoyment in our game,” he said in a statement.

The incoming group of organisations will engage in the first of two residentials this year in Hamilton from May 30 to June 1, where they will start in a 12-month accelerated learning environment designed around creating more targeted engagements with parents.

Sport NZ’s national parent approach focuses on supporting national and regional organisations to engage more effectively, support and deliver initiatives to parents and whānau through the provision of tools, resources and research.  Additionally, Sport NZ utilises digital platforms such as the Balance is Better website and Sport NZ social media channels to provide information to help parents grow their understanding of the important role they play in youth sport.

Labor set to deliver infrastructure upgrades to Northern NSW Football clubs

NNSWF

Northern NSW Football (NNSWF) is set to welcome nine promised infrastructure upgrades from the Labor Government following the party’s win at the Federal election.

The commitments are a result of NNSWF’s strategy to lobby Federal MPs as part of its key strategic priority of Places to Play, as well as the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 Legacy plan.

The commitments are from Labor candidates standing for election on Saturday.

“We thank sitting MPs and candidates who have made pledges to support football within their electorate,” NNSWF CEO David Eland said in a statement via the organisation.

“One of our priorities as part of our 2021-2023 Strategic Plan is ‘Places to Play’. So these commitments are not a coincidence. They are reflective of the work NNSWF and Member Zone staff have done over a number of years.”

NNSWF launched a comprehensive Facilities Audit in 2018 to capture data on more than 200 football facilities across northern NSW. A priority projects list was established in conjunction with clubs to advocate with all levels of government.

The NSW Football Infrastructure Strategy was then released in 2020. From this, NNSWF developed seven Local Infrastructure Strategies consisting of data from the audit and outlined a strategic direction to cater for the increase in participation based on five pillars:

  • Planning for growth and demand
  • Improve existing venue capacity
  • Inclusive football facilities
  • Homes of football
  • Partnerships and investment

“Football is the largest team participation sport in NSW with our current rapid growth certain to continue,” Eland continued.

“We needed to plan for the future and identify the needs of our sport for those that currently play and for those that want to but can’t.

“We identified at the time that there could have been as many as 30,000 additional players across NSW that could have played in 2019 if they had access to a football facility.

“What we are doing is ensuring that football has the infrastructure and facilities to continue to grow into the future and players will have access to quality places to play wherever they are in our region.”

The clubs set to receive much-needed infrastructure upgrades following Labor’s election win are:

  • Wallsend FC, Wallsend DDC ($286,000 for ground improvements, including irrigation on both fields)
  • Newcastle Olympic FC ($625,000 for amenity improvements and a new grandstand)
  • Maitland FC ($2,000,000 to upgrade lighting and to develop new amenities and a function centre)
  • Valentine FC ($184,000 for amenities upgrades)
  • Dudley United Senior FC ($320,000 for gender neutral amenities upgrade, disability access and toilets)
  • Garden Suburbs FC ($400,000 for female friendly changerooms)
  • Singleton Strikers FC (3,000,000 for upgrades to three full fields, multi-use court, upgraded amenities and carpark)
  • Edgeworth FC ($65,000 for fencing, completion of lighting project and completion of dish drainage)
  • Thornton JFC ($150,000 for lighting upgrade to two fields and new lighting to MiniRoos area)

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