Chris Nikou re-elected to the ASEAN Football Federation Council

Chris Nikou

The Association of South East Nations (ASEAN) Football Federation (AFF) Council has re-elected Football Australia Chair Chris Nikou on a four-year term between 2022 and 2026.

The AFF consists of the national football associations of Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Timor-Leste, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

The AFF Elections took place during the AFF Ordinary Congress 2022 in Siem Reap, Cambodia, with Nikou in attendance.

The AFF Elections held were for the positions of President, four Vice Presidents, five Council Members and one female council member.

Nikou was successfully elected unopposed as a Council Member with a term of four (4) years and was pleased with his election and Australia’s continued efforts to enhance relationships within the ASEAN region.

“I would first like to thank my colleagues across ASEAN for entrusting me with the responsibility that a position on the AFF Council entails,” Nikou said. “Recognising that responsibility, I am committed to working hard to ensure Australia supports the development of this beautiful game across the South East Asian region,” Nikou said in a statement.

“Since being admitted to AFF as a full member in 2013, Australia has only continued to increase its football engagement with the region, and my renewed position on the AFF Council provides an opportunity to continue driving this strong relationship.

“Australia is proud to be a part of ASEAN, and with a combined population of 650 million football-loving people, this region presents tremendous opportunities to grow and develop the game for the benefit of many, and to bring nations together through a common love of football.

“Through the AFF, and together with our fellow AFF Member Associations, Football Australia will continue to work in partnership to ensure AFC’s vision of becoming the world’s leading football confederation is achieved.”

The AFF Ordinary Congress 2022 in Siem Reap closely followed Cambodia’s hosting of the ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh, which was attended by Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

Federal government commit $250 million to upgrade AIS facilities

The federal government confirm they are committing $250 million to upgrade the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) ahead of the 2032 Brisbane Olympics.

The funding will be put towards building a new high-performance training and testing centre, a multi-sport indoor dome, and an accommodation facility.

An independent review of the institute’s infrastructure found that in February, the AIS should stay in Canberra but needs a significant upgrade ahead of the games.

As a football outlook, the facilities don’t seem to help the development of young or professional footballers at all.

After the ‘FFA Centre of Excellence’ was discontinued in 2017, the AIS haven’t put a lot of focus into football and have left development purely up to Football Australia and the state federations.

The AIS upgrades in Canberra are seemingly leaving out football and the $250m is being spent on a purely Olympic outlook including athletics and swimming, in order to try and maximise the amount of gold medals Australia wins.

With the popularity of The Matildas rapidly growing with eight years before the Brisbane Olympics, the government should really be focusing on what they can do for football.

Federal Sports Minister Anika Wells discussed the government’s commitment to revitalise the AIS as a “world-standard facility.”

“When it was first built, the AIS was so successful in preparing our medal winning athletes that it was replicated by sporting nations around the world and became the benchmark for achieving athletic success,” she said in an statement.

“Today, our government is investing in the AIS, so we reach those benchmarks again as we commit to delivering world standard training facilities ahead of the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games.”

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese commented on the importance of these upgrades for the country.

“We want to give our athletes the best chance of bringing home gold at Brisbane and every competition before and after those games,” he added in an statement.

“The upcoming budget will ensure the AIS remains in the capital, where it belongs, and ensure it once again becomes the world-leading high-performance centre it was designed to be.”

The AIS upgrades are fantastic for the country’s top athletes and the much needed improvements set the country up well for 2032, but the question lies, what are they doing for football?

AFC Technical Committee create new awards to improve standards

The AFC Technical Committee had its second meeting last weekend in Doha, Qatar on the eve of the AFC U23 Asian Cup Qatar 2024 Final between Japan and Uzbekistan.

The official AFC meeting outlines new initiatives on awarding development and solidifying supportive structures.

In conjunction with the overall rise in Women’s football within the AFC’s associations and the wider FIFA football community, The AFC has decided to unveil the new accolade of the AFC Women’s International Player of the Year Award.

The eligibility criteria include that applicants:

  • Must be Asian
  • Playing in the leagues of other Confederations
  • Have recorded significant achievements for country or club

There has also been an adapted criteria for the existing AFC Women’s Player of the Year. Similarly, they must be Asian and a regular national team player, specifically in the AFC competitions, and any of the AFC’s Member Associations (MAs) leagues.

The goalkeeper position has also been given due recognition with the Goalkeeper of the Tournament Award in the revamped AFC Champions League Elite – Final Stage, which commences from the 2024/25 season.

These initiatives are important for the AFC acknowledging crucial technical roles in the footballing scene. These individual awards give the incentive for further support for women and goalkeeping by officially elevating their status in the AFC.

Also, there was the support of structured initiatives within the AFC, including the ‘Positive Play’ campaign – promoting attractive football for players, coaches and supporters endorsing the expectation of positive future playing styles. This is especially prominent in the upcoming AFC youth competition with the winning team receiving a certificate of achievement.

On the topic of youth and growth, the AFC Elite Youth Scheme and AFC grassroots charter have also received updates and growing drive, including importantly newly updated regulations for the AFC Coaching Convention.

However, these decisions need to be further ratified by the AFC Executive Committee. This is a promising statement that the AFC Technical Committee is strategising large investments in increasing standards throughout all levels of the AFC’s MAs.

This meeting should also intrigue keen investors, shareholders and clubs in the AFC Technical Committees objective to encourage development means they are willing to reward. financially and strategically. This supports their aim to achieve higher standards and results on and off the field.

It’s an encouraging sign of evolution in the Asian football schedule and an ambitious push by the AFC.

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