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AFC Member Associations celebrate the return of Grassroots Football Day

Grassroots football

The Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) dedication to build on the strong foundations of football in the Continent and to ensure that the sport remains the number one sport in Asia was strengthened further, as 41 Member Associations pledged to join the AFC Grassroots Football Day 2021 celebrations.

Following strict health and safety protocols, more than 230,000 participants of all ages, backgrounds and abilities from across Asia are expected to join the annual football festival organised by the Member Associations.

AFC President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa acknowledged the significance of the AFC Grassroots Football Day to the continent’s sporting aspirations.

“The grassroots movement has made incredible progress across the Continent in recent years, and I am pleased to welcome the return of the AFC Grassroots Football Day, which once again reinforces our optimism towards the safe and successful resumption of Asian football in 2021,” he said.

“Our aspiration is to see everyone, regardless of their age, ability, gender and background, across all corners of Asia, presented with opportunities not just to develop a passion for the beautiful game, but to cultivate strong values, build resilience, character and transferable skills, through a lifelong journey in football.

“It has been a challenging, and at times uncertain journey, and I would like to warmly thank all the AFC MAs as well as our valued and loyal stakeholders for their continued support and for believing in our Vision to expand the reach of football.”

Tournaments such as the Chinese Football Association’s “Enjoy The Game” National Grassroots Championship are expected to attract more than 200,000 passionate participants across the tournament’s runtime from May to December.

Meanwhile, the Kyrgyz Football Union and the Philippine Football Federation are inviting national team players to share their inspiring experience to young players, whilst the Mongolian Football Federation will initiate a promotional campaign titled “Football is everywhere” to celebrate the grassroots event in 21 provinces across the country.

As part of the AFC, Football Australia will be introducing a “MiniRoos AFC Grassroots Gala Day” in an effort to celebrate the driving force of community engagement and the encourage more children to play football.

The Football Association of Indonesia and the Syrian Football Association will make a return to the Continental grassroots festival this year, while six Member Associations – Bhutan, India, Malaysia, Japan, Vietnam and Singapore will mark their eight successive year of participation with a series of workshops, tournaments and game stations.

Player sentiment up, average age down: PFA releases annual report

Sentiment is well and truly up for A-League players, according to the annual Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) report.

This time last year, only 33% of A-League players felt confident about the direction of their football careers.

According to the PFA’s latest annual report, that number is now 56%.

Of the A-League’s 312 players, 200 responded to the 2020/21 A-League survey, capturing 70% of the current cohort, with the results proving that even despite the ongoing turbulence and uncertainty of COVID-19, the majority of players feel much more confident about their futures within the game.

The report highlights that Australian players actively want to remain in the A-League, as opposed to seeking opportunities overseas.

The key numbers that demonstrate this include:

  • 55% of players said they would like to stay playing in the A-League next season, up from 45% last year.
  • 56% of players are confident about the direction of their football careers, compared to 33% in 2019/20.
  • Only 4% of players would move to an overseas league even if it was for similar money and/or playing standard.
  • Only 16% of players who would prefer to move to an overseas league would only do so if the money and standards were better.

Other highlights of the report include that the average A-League player is getting younger.

Over the last 14 years, the average age of the A-League player has consistently trended upwards.

In 2020/21, however, this changed and the average age trended downwards, dropping from 27.6 to 25.1.

The number of players utilised in the A-League who were aged 21 and under came in at 107, representing 35% of the 300 players who received A-League minutes during the 2020/21 season.

The youngest squads on average belonged to Central Coast Mariners and Adelaide United, with average ages of 23.6 and 23.9 years respectively.

Another highlight was the fact that of the league’s 312 contracted players, 300 received A-League minutes.

“These reports have been immensely valuable, helping the PFA and the players better understand the industry in which they are employed, monitor the application of high-performance standards, assess technical progress and survey the players’ experience,” PFA Co-Chief Executive Beau Busch said of the report.

“For the last five years, we have been able to utilise these reports to formulate evidence-based positions to improve the environments in which our members work through collective bargaining.

“Promisingly, after a period of significant uncertainty, the players have indicated that they are more confident in the direction of their careers and the future of the competition than this time last year, signifying a positive shift in the perception of the A-League.”

The report also highlights the fact that A-League attendances were the lowest ever in the competition, thanks in large part to COVID-19, with an average attendance of 5,660.

Foreign players in the league reduced by 12 to a total of 51, whilst the average salary in the A-League is $136,791.

Access the full report HERE.

DFL and AWS introduce two new Match Facts to Bundesliga coverage

Bundesliga analysis

The Deutsche Fußball Liga (DFL) and Amazon Web Services (AWS) have announced the addition of two new Bundesliga Match Facts powered by AWS that will premiere as graphics during broadcasts and in the official Bundesliga app during the 2021-2022 season.

The two new Match Facts – Shot Efficiency and Passing Profile – will bring the total number of advanced statistics to eight, with each of them aiming to give fans deeper insights into the action on the pitch.

The first of the new advanced stats – Shot Efficiency – compares the number of goals that a player or team has scored with how many goals the player or team should have scored based on the quality of their chances.

The second – Passing Profile – provides deeper insights into the pass quality of a player or an entire team. Both of the stats are generated by gathering and analysing the match feeds from live games in real time as they are streamed into AWS.

Both new stats made their debut during Matchday 4 on the clash between German Champion FC Bayern München and the second-placed team of the previous season RB Leipzig.

The two new Match Facts will better showcase the action on the field – giving fans, coaches, players, and commentators visual support for analysing the decision-making of players and teams.

Andreas Heyden, Executive Vice President of Digital Innovations for DFL Group, was excited to further innovate the matchday experience for viewers based both domestically and internationally.

“Bundesliga Match Facts powered by AWS allows us to give fans more insight into the game of football, broadcasters more interesting stories to tell and coaches and teams, more data to excel at their game,” he said.

“Last year, the reception for Bundesliga Match Facts around the world was very positive, and we expect through ML and AI to continue to innovate on these analytics to make them even better.

“These two new stats give fans a view into player efficiency that hasn’t been achieved before, and we are just at the beginning of our relationship with AWS. I’m excited to see how technology will continue to evolve the fan experience and the game.”

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