Capital Football hosts referee education sessions with Alex King

Alex King

Capital Football match officials were given the opportunity to learn from one of Australia’s top officials, as FIFA and A-Leagues referee Alex King came to Canberra to deliver an education session.

A veteran of 96 A-League Men’s matches, and one of the most respected referees in Australian football, King shared his expertise on player management, penalty area decisions and a day in the life of a full-time referee.

King articulated the importance that for top level officials to hold education sessions with local referees, when given the opportunity.

“I’m hoping to inspire a little bit and just show and talk about our personal journeys and try and resonate with some of the younger referees, that they can go to the top of their refereeing,” King said via Capital Football.

“I think referee education is super important, sometimes we just sort of throw them the whistle and say have at it. I just think there is definitely a lot more we can do in this space to give these girls and boys the right tools to handle themselves in football matches. If we can show that I can do this, then anyone can do this.”

As part of his time in Canberra, King helped to run a training session, assisted by fellow A-League officials Shane Skinner and Lachlan Keevers, and while the drills are simple, King believes that they are also super effective.

“As I explained to them, players practice their set pieces, they practice their corners, they practice kicking the ball, so why don’t we practice moving around the penalty area, trying to get the angle, trying to get close, showing that we need to be dynamic and move fast around the penalty area to be in the best place to see and to make the best possible decision in the game.

“They’re simple drills but super effective. I just think if the players are practicing, we need to also practice.”

For junior referee Lachlan Li Chiang, it was great to hear from some of the top referees in the country and to learn off their experiences.

“It’s a great learning experience. You can learn from top referees in Australia and improve your own game,” Li Chiang said via Capital Football.

“Heaps of things like player management, what to do in certain scenarios, and just refereeing in general.

“I’m keen to become a top referee at Adam’s level. I just have to keep working hard and take in his knowledge and what he is sharing to us.”

King also implored anyone sitting on the fence about becoming a referee to sign up, saying that it helps to grow as people and not just as referees.

“The friends that you make through refereeing, stay with you for life. When you get to do matches with your mates, you enjoy and celebrate each other’s successes, I think there’s nothing better,” he said.

“I encourage anyone to pick up a whistle because it will give you life skills that you won’t get taught elsewhere. Dealing with conflict, dealing with players, talking to men and women, I think it just helps us grow as people and not just as referees.”

Uncertainty looms around National Second Tier’s future

The highly anticipated National Second Tier (NST) in its proposed format is set to be postponed by Football Australia, with the body looking to find alternative ways to include these NPL clubs into a similar structure that would be more financially viable.

Vince Rugari of the Sydney Morning Herald broke the news on Tuesday claiming the highly ambitious second tier was likely going to be put on hold after the original plan was to have 10 to 14 foundation clubs forming a separate league, without promotion or relegation to start.

There was a very high financial threshold that the eight foundation clubs needed to reach in order to be granted a licence and unfortunately with rumours of some in the eight sceptical of its viability, other NPL clubs with a proposal in the original plan have backed away from the idea for the time being.

For what is meant to be a ‘national competition’, having clubs from NSW and Victoria only is quite restricted but the search for a financially strong club outside of the two states, willing to take that massive financial risk, is a task that is too difficult in the country’s current state of football affairs.

There has been a lack of a clear message from Football Australia across the past 12 months. The eight foundation clubs were left on standby about important information like the correct format, whether it was going to expand to 10 or 12 teams that Football Australia promised multiple times, or when the league would actually kick off in winter of 2025 or beyond that considering the shaky A-League finances being the main subject of discussion surrounding the initial success of the NSD.

After the A-Leagues controversial call to reduce initial funding of top tier clubs to $530k a year from its usual $2m a year, a properly run second division seems like a task too far down its priority list despite the positive feedback it has received from fans and clubs about implementing a ‘transformative’ system mirroring European football.

An idea being floated around as a possible solution to the unviability of a separate league is to add existing A-League teams to the ‘Champions League-style’ second division, which would essentially be a more exclusive version of the existing Australia Cup.

Football Australia CEO James Johnson told The Asian Game exclusively that “we will have a (national) second tier it will exist,” but the home and away format played during the winter is a long shot and the foundation clubs are left in limbo wondering what their immediate futures are considering the heavy financial investment they will have to make if it goes ahead.

This whole saga has been a case of Football Australia pushing away the problems that quickly arose from this ambitious idea and being too reactive when it comes to finding a solution that would be fair for the foundation clubs financially.

The NSD must wait and not force itself into a fragile Australian football landscape that has many more issues it must worry about in the top flight before building a second division that could financially damage some of the most historic clubs in Victoria and NSW.

In a world where Australian football needs authority and structure, the collapse of the original idea of the NSD proves there is a long way to go and communication towards the clubs and fans involved has to improve.

Newcastle Jets’ new owners add key pieces for upcoming season

Newcastle Jets’ new owners, Maverick Sports Partners, have hired Ken Schembri as General Manager of Football and Ben Hawes as General Manager of Commercial, Digital and Marketing for this upcoming season.

The appointment of Schembri and Hawes reaffirms Maverick Sports Partners’ intent to invest in high-quality resources, which should excite Newcastle fans for this upcoming season.

Schembri had previously worked with the reigning champions, the Central Coast Mariners, being an essential part of establishing the Central Coast Mariners Football Academy and their Centre of Excellence when he joined in 2014.

Schembri will manage the A-League Men’s roster, oversee player performance and development, and handle recruitment for all football departments.

The Mariner’s Academy has produced many young and exciting Australian talent including Garang Kuol and Max Balard who have all gone to join clubs in Europe after their time in Gosford. Schembri has most recently played a key role in Central Coast’s recent success as Head of Football.

Maverick Sports Partners Director Maurice Bisetto commented about the new additions.

“We are excited to have both Ken and Ben join the Newcastle Jets team. They will be integral to the strategy and direction of the Club’s New Era, providing expertise and support, on and off the pitch,” said Bisetto in a club statement.

These two joined the Jets after the club were bought by the Australian company only last month.

Hawes has prior experience in Sponsorship, Marketing and Content roles at the National Rugby League, Sportsbet, BlueBet and Sydney FC.

Hawes will focus on expanding and diversifying the clubs commercial revenue streams which includes growing the sponsorship portfolio. He will also deal with commercialising the club’s digital channels as well as implementing new marketing and fan engagement strategies.

Due to these recent moves, Newcastle have the potential to produce exciting Australian talent and grow its brand across the league which will help the club continue to improve both on and off the pitch and ultimately strengthen their stability for future seasons.

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