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Nick Galatas: “XI Principles a step in the right direction to unify the game”

The Australian Association of Football Clubs (AAFC) has released a response to Football Federation Australia’s (FFA) XI Principles, supporting the call for a more inclusive governance strategy moving forward.

Speaking exclusively to Soccerscene, AAFC Chairman Nick Galatas believes the FFA’s new ‘living document’ is a step in the right direction to building a “vertical, democratic model” which will ultimately help to unify the game.

The XI Principles were publicly revealed on 2 July 2020 in release titled ‘XI Principles for the future of Australian football’. The discussion paper is intended to outline 11 key strategies to drive the growth of Australian football.

“The AAFC welcomes the FFA’s XI Principles. From our perspective it demonstrates a recognition that there are currently issues within football that need to be addressed, so we believe it is fantastic that they are inviting discussion and comment,” Galatas says.

“To the FFA’s credit, they have stated that it is a ‘living document’. This means they have opened the bidding to everyone involved in the game by encouraging them to participate and contribute.”

The AAFC represents National Premier League clubs from across Australia’s state federations and the ACT. The association advocates for the clubs and their more than 40,000 players around the country.

In its official response to the XI Principles discussion paper, the AAFC called on the need for a linked football hierarchy that will act as a fluid pyramid. This, according to Galatas would help to create a competitive system where ambition is rewarded, and clubs can earn progression based on merit.

“Unifying the game sends the message that people, and clubs are not categorised into positions. They should not be labelled and should not be given a function. Clubs should aspire to be the best that they can be and what the club’s members want them to be,” Galatas says.

The FFA’s new message under CEO James Johnson appears to be one of collaboration, an approach which differs to the previous strategy which inadvertently created a divide between the A-League and state-level clubs.

“We all want to see our top tier thrive. Unleashing the potential of our clubs, providing a linked structure, offers the best chance for our struggling A-League to be re-energised and become the top-tier we all want it to be, at the top of a linked, inclusive, fluid football pyramid,” Galatas said.

The idea of a linked system would likely lead to a stronger collective outcome from Australia’s football clubs, which would lay the foundations for a stronger national team.

One of the goals of the AAFC’s desire for a linked system would be the implementation of a national second division. He believes the creation of a competitive second division would reinvigorate the A-League and strengthen all levels of the game.

“Ultimately creating a linked system could lead to promotion and relegation. I say ultimately because we need to create that over time, but we want to see a real second tier that the strongest and most aspirational clubs can form,” he says.

“The remainder of NPL clubs can then form a tier below that. This would alleviate them from the burden currently imposed on them and make football more accessible for kids to participate at a junior level.”

In terms of governance, the seventh principle proposed by the FFA is to ‘Transition towards a modern, fit-for-purpose governance framework for football in Australia in line with global standards and best-practice sports governance in Australia.’

Although this model has not been clearly defined yet, Galatas says the ideal solution would be to implement a “vertical integrated democratic model” which clubs have direct representations in their federations.

“Clubs are members-based. They are run by the people who elect a committee to represent them. Since 2006 clubs are not members of the federation so we are aiming to achieve the implementation of a vertically integrated democratic model where there is linkage and representation from top to bottom,” Galatas says

This fits one of the AAFC’s key visions, to secure voting rights on FFA Congress. The body is already a congress member and considers it important to create a system that is not exclusive and involves those at the grassroots rather than isolates them.

The release of the XI Principles comes a little over a year since the FFA scrapped the controversial National Club Identity Policy (NCIP), a policy which Galatas believes alienated people, clubs and the link strong link between tradition, multiculturalism, and football.

“The NCIP was a slap in the face to the history of the game. Australia stands for inclusiveness and welcoming migrant culture and legacy. It smacked of a totalitarian approach. Abolishing the NCIP was the first step towards demonstrating inclusiveness,” Galatas says.

View a full list of the FFA’s XI Principles here.

$1.5 Billion FIFA COVID-19 Relief Plan Approved

FIFA

The Bureau of the FIFA Council has approved the FIFA COVID-19 Relief Plan regulations which aim to financially support member associations during the pandemic.

$1.5 billion USD ($2.1 billion AUD), will be made available by the international governing body to assist the member associations and confederations.

Each member association will receive a $1 million USD universal solidarity grant. An extra $500,000 USD will be provided which can only be used for women’s football.

The six football confederations will also receive $2 million USD each, these grants will be received by the organisations by January 2021.

As a part of the plan member associations will also be able to apply for interest free loans of up to 35 per cent of their annual revenues. FIFA has set a maximum loan limit of five million dollars. Confederations will be able to apply for loan of up to four million dollars.

FIFA said that clear loan repayment conditions are laid out in the regulations along with strict compliance and audit requirements.

“This relief plan is a great example of football’s solidarity and commitment in such unprecedented times,” said FIFA President Gianni Infantino.

“I would like to thank my colleagues of the Bureau of the Council for approving the decision to move forward with such an important initiative for the benefit of all member associations and confederations.”

With the funds provided FIFA believes that member associations will be able to restart competitions, re-hire staff and pay any administration or operating costs.

“Unfortunately, the resultant suspension of basic football activities in almost every country has led to enormous financial distress for member associations and their respective football structures,” FIFA said in the relief plan.

“FIFA quickly recognised the need and duty to implement a FIFA COVID-19 Relief Plan aimed at alleviating this distress and ensuring the provision of financial support to assist with football’s resumption and protect the games future well-being across the globe.”

FIFA administrators created the plan earlier this year after consultation with the confederations. The plan was then approved by the FIFA Council on June 25.

Queensland features an abundance of Matildas

New figures show that Queensland's female development has been incredibly successful in finding new talent, who have represented the Westfield Matildas.

New figures show that Queensland’s female development has been incredibly successful in finding talent, who have represented the Westfield Matildas.

As part of Football Queensland’s latest findings, 40 homegrown players have gone on to represent the Australian Women’s National Team at major senior and youth tournaments since July 2012.

Katrina Gorry, Mackenzie Arnold and Hayley Raso (pictured) are a few examples of local talents working their way up the ranks during the last eight years and will be key contributors in the next Women’s World Cup hosted by Australia and New Zealand in 2023.

Gorry, Arnold and Raso spent time at the Queensland Academy of Sport (QAS) before accomplishing themselves in the Westfield W-League and internationally.

Football Queensland and the QAS combined to launch a full-time training and playing program for upcoming talents in 2018.

“Our pathway is now the envy of every female footballer in the country,” Rae Dower said, a former Matilda and current Junior Matildas Head Coach.

“We’re fully committed to evolving the program and to helping as many female players in Queensland reach their full potential on and off the field through the creation of our high-performance environment.

“We’d love to help make dreams come true for Queensland players wanting to play for the Matildas in a home FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2023 and beyond.”

Football Federation Australia revealed more than 18,000 women and girls from Queensland played football in 2019, as part of the latest census findings – a three per cent increase on 2018.

“The numbers we have are very encouraging and we look forward to seeing Queensland produce many more Westfield Matildas,” FQ Technical Director Gabor Ganczer said.

“Having the FIFA Women’s World Cup on home soil will be a big moment and objective for aspirational players and we are putting a lot of resources into helping them achieve their goals, not just now but permanently.”

Football Queensland provided every local player who has represented Australia at Olympic Games, World Cups or Continental Championships since the beginning of July in 2012:

Laura Alleway, Mackenzie Arnold, Mia Bailey, Angela Beard, Georgia Beaumont, Savannah Boller, Eliza Campbell, Kim Carroll, Kyra Cooney-Cross, Larissa Crummer, Isobel Dalton, Casey Dumont, Charlotte Farmer, Ciara Fowler, Mary Fowler, Sunny Franco, Shekinah Friske, Emily Gielnik, Brooke Goodrich, Katrina Gorry, Winonah Heatley, Elise Kellond-Knight, India Kubin, Aivi Luik, Afrikah McGladrigan, Teagan Micah, Ayesha Norrie (Kirby), Hollie Palmer, Clare Polkinghorne, Kezia Pritchard, Hayley Raso, Jamilla Rankin, Taylor Ray, Indiah-Paige Riley, Arina Tokunaga, Kaitlyn Torpey, Cortnee Vine, Natasha Wheeler, Brittany Whitfield, Tameka Yallop (Butt).

Junior football makes its return in Devonport

Football Queensland

After a delayed start due to the COVID-19 crisis, the 2020 Devonport Junior Soccer Association season began this past weekend.

Close to 700 juniors between the age of four and twelve were back on the football field in the city of Devonport.

Football Tasmania CEO Matt Bulkeley was excited to see the children return to play the state’s favourite team sport.

“COVID-19’s impact was felt particularly hard on the north-west coast, creating a lot of uncertainty about whether the season could kick-off,” Mr Bulkeley said.

“To see children back out on the pitch again, having fun and being active is a great reward for whole community after a tough few months.

“With junior matches also starting across Burnie in the Western School Soccer Association earlier this month and the Northern Championship, WSL and NPL seasons underway, the football family on the north-west coast has finally returned to doing what they like best on the weekend – enjoying our great game.

“The 2020 season wouldn’t have been possible without the tireless work of all the volunteers, clubs and associations who have put in so many hours to make the return to football safe.

“On behalf of the entire Tasmanian football family I wholeheartedly thank everyone involved in rebooting football so players and families can again enjoy the vast array of health and social benefits playing the sport provides.

“I’d also like to thank our 2020 junior competition partners MyState Bank and Southern Cross Austero for their roles in helping get junior players back on the pitch safely and in time to fit in a meaningful season.”

DJSA President Richard Bidwell claimed there was a huge sense of relief to finally begin the football season.

“While this season may be shorter than usual, it’s been a lot busier behind the scenes, dealing with both the COVID delay and the building works at Meercroft Park.

“I’d like to thank everyone involved – from the DJSA staff and volunteers, to the schools and the Devonport City Council – for understanding the circumstances and making it possible for our kids to play.

“After being all set to go in March and then facing the unknown of how many players we’d have for 2020 if we could get a season in, it’s wonderful that football is finally back at Meercroft.”

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