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Could COVID-19 stunt progress towards the Second Division?

The ongoing worldwide pandemic has seen the A-League, as well as all state competitions postpone their fixtures until further notice.

The current situation is bleak, with no timeframe set for when on-field competition can restart or whether the current season will be cancelled in favour of a fresh start next season.

The FFA has a lot on their plates right now and no-one would envy them right now. However, if they’re not careful enough, they could potentially set Australian soccer back several seasons.

The COVID-19 pandemic will end, but things won’t normalise for a long time. The health and safety of Australians is of the utmost priority and thankfully, the country hasn’t been as seriously affected as some.

In saying that, several aspects of the game in our country cannot be sacrificed and must not be put on the backburner.

The National Second Division was easily the most necessary adjustment to the elite level of our sport prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Obviously, these bizarre times have altered this. But when the dust settles, and it will, the FFA needs to act upon the National Second Division.

When life-changing events take place, it becomes second nature to drop whatever you’re doing and focus solely on the important matter at hand.

After a while, it becomes easy to forget on what you were originally focused on. Sometimes, it gets left in the rear-view mirror altogether and you never do a U-turn to find it.

The FFA cannot do this to their current plans on the National Second Division.

At the time of writing, no ‘set in stone’ plans currently exist for the FFA and the National Second Division. Nothing concrete has been put to paper.

On the flipside, it is known there are strong motivations to get the ball rolling as quickly as possible. Like a cheese wheel going down a hill.

Weird analogy, but the point remains. The FFA is acutely aware of how important the National Second Division is to the future of the A-League and the sport in Australia, as a whole.

It goes without saying what makes the European leagues so cutthroat and enviable to Australians.

The promotion and relegation, the seemingly endless divisions in countries like England, Germany and Spain. The possibility of playing against some of the best in the world, both domestically and in continental tournaments. The knowledge that if you’re not up to scratch, you can be out the door as quick as the snap of a finger.

Or as quick as a cheese wheel going down a hill. How’s that come up again?

There isn’t as much accountability for poor performance in Australian soccer. If you finish bottom in the A-League, there’s no real punishment. Some seasons can be a real lottery.

The point of all this? To ensure the FFA doesn’t allow COVID-19 to halt their plans on the National Second Division.

They can be excused for ignoring other issues right now, some just simply aren’t essential. But the future of Australian soccer is one of the most essential issues for them.

Let’s say for arguments sake that the FFA planned to introduce the National Second Division at the start of the 2022-23 A-League season.

Let’s also say that the COVID-19 pandemic happened in another universe, allowing them a near uninterrupted 18-24 months to figure out a setup for the National Second Division.

With their current motives to get the National Second Division started, it’s more than plausible that it could become a reality in that timeframe.

However, we live in the universe where COVID-19 has wreaked havoc upon the world and these plans have been temporarily put to the side.

It’s foreseeable that the FFA will allow things to completely settle before they resume planning on the National Second Division.

That is easily one of the biggest mistake they could make at that time, when it comes.

They can’t afford to delay any longer. If they push plans back to 2024-25 or even longer down the line, the game in this country will suffer even more.

We can’t imagine having to make these tough decisions during this time such as cutting or furloughing staff amongst other things.

But if they make the decision to delay the National Second Division plans, they’ll regret it sooner than they think.

We’re hopeful this is not the case.

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Also, get involved in the conversation on Twitter @Soccersceneau

 

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Caelum Ferrarese is a Senior journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on micro policy within Australasia and industry disruptions at grassroots level.

New community club support initiatives to be rolled out by Football Queensland

Football Queensland (FQ) has announced they will introduce a new offering of club support initiatives over the next weeks and months.

Football Queensland (FQ) has announced they will introduce a new offering of club support initiatives over the next weeks and months.

The move will benefit clubs based in the Sunshine State, as Football Queensland continue to focus on ways to strengthen the community, grassroots and volunteers for a more sustainable future.

“Football Queensland is committed to providing increased support to our clubs and dedicated volunteers at all levels of the game and this extensive new set of club support resources will provide practical guidance and support on a range of administration matters,” FQ President Ben Richardson said.

This news follows on from FQ’s announcement last week regarding their upgraded Club Support Hub, which is a go-to destination for club administrators to access important resources, guides and assistance with club processes and procedures.

“Following the launch of Football Queensland’s upgraded Club Support Hub last week, the introduction of FQ’s new club support initiatives will begin with an exciting new volunteer program which will be launched across the state in the coming weeks,” FQ CEO Robert Cavallucci said.

“As the season progresses, FQ will release a range of tailored resources for clubs that include new resources designed to inform clubs about specific operational activities including finance planning and budgeting, running an AGM and understanding the roles and responsibilities of committee members among others.

“Volunteers are critical to club operations, especially at this time of the season, so we are looking forward to providing an additional level of support to Queensland clubs as we strive to make the job easier for all volunteers.

“The development of additional club resources aligns with FQ’s commitment to providing high levels of customer service through the implementation of new technology and processes, while supporting clubs to deliver high-quality participation experiences in line with our Strategic Plan.

“We are excited to continue providing our clubs and volunteers across Queensland with unprecedented levels of support through the ongoing development of our Club Support Hub and the release of high-quality resources to strengthen our clubs at every level of the game.”

You can find the Club Support Hub here.

Football Australia announces major partnership with Commonwealth Bank of Australia

Football Australia and Commonwealth Bank Australia have announced a major partnership, which will make the Commonwealth Bank the largest investor in women’s football in Australia.

The CBA will become the official naming rights partner of the Matildas and will also make it the official bank of the Matildas, Junior Matildas, Young Matildas and Socceroos.

The partnership is for an initial four-year term with Football Australia’s release stating that the agreement will, “inject millions of dollars into elite women’s football and grassroots initiatives around the country.”

Commencing from August 2021, the partnership between CBA and Football Australia will include but is not limited to:

  • Official Naming Rights Partner of the Matildas, Junior Matildas and Young Matildas
  • Official Bank of the Matildas, Junior Matildas and Young Matildas
  • Official Partner the Female Football Awards
  • Official Naming Rights Partner of Matildas Fan Days
  • Official Partner and Bank of the Socceroos
  • Official Partner of the MiniRoos

Football Australia CEO, James Johnson, said the partnership was a crucial milestone ahead of a busy upcoming international schedule.

“We’re delighted to partner with Commonwealth Bank and see this as an exciting synergy of two of Australia’s great contemporary brands,” he said.

“We believe firmly in anchoring the growth of our sport in women’s football, the strength of our diverse community, promoting inclusivity in Australian football and enhancing the reputation of our national teams, both the Matildas and Socceroos as we embark on an incredibly busy international schedule over the next four years.

“We are thrilled that these core themes of our new 15-year vision and strategic agenda, which are so deeply embedded within our XI Principles for the future of Australian football, are also extremely important to Commonwealth Bank.

“This partnership is a wonderful representation of our bold new vision for the sport coming to life and the new trajectory of Australian football.

“We are proud to welcome Commonwealth Bank, one of Australia’s most iconic companies, to the football family as we embark, together, on this exciting journey of transformation towards becoming the centre of women’s football in the Asia-Pacific.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the enormous support that Westfield has and continues to provide to women’s football in Australia.

“Westfield’s commitment, leadership and significant investment in the game over 13 years has helped to create the current generation of champions and for that we will always be grateful. We continue to work with Westfield and indeed are excited about the Westfield Matildas taking on the Netherlands tonight.”

Football Australia Head of Women’s Football, Women’s World Cup Legacy & Inclusion, Sarah Walsh highlighted the significance of the ‘female-focused’ nature of the agreement.

“Commonwealth Bank’s female-focused investment will provide greater awareness of, and access to, women’s football,” she said

“We want to ensure every boy and girl has a great experience in the game they love and remain focused on building a legacy for our sport by providing girls with a pathway and inspiring them to play elite football.

“Only three months ago, Commonwealth Bank was ranked as Australia’s strongest brand, and as both an ex-player and administrator in the game, it is a truly proud moment to have such a significant organisation dedicating so much resource to our game.”

Commonwealth Bank CEO, Matt Comyn, said, the CBA was delighted to be add women’s football to its portfolio of partnerships, saying that in conjunction with the CBA’s partnership with women’s cricket, the bank was leading the way in supporting positive sporting outcomes for Australian women.

“Women’s football and women’s cricket are showing young Australian women they can achieve great things on the world stage,” he said.

“We look forward to working with Football Australia to ensure every girl and boy playing in a community club with a goal to play at an elite level has the same access and support to achieve their dream.

“The Matildas have been one of the great success stories of Australian sport in recent years as the women’s game has grown in stature and importance at home and around the globe.

“Many players are now in some of the best leagues in the world which has helped put Australian football on the map.

“We are delighted to partner with Football Australia in not only supporting the Matildas in their quest for World Cup glory, but equally as important, supporting the future growth and development of the game across all levels.”

Soccerscene partners with University of Canberra

Soccerscene and the University of Canberra have announced a partnership commencing from 5th of March.

Students from the University of Canberra will be offered pathways to partake in the football publication’s internship program under the agreement.

The partnership has been struck based on a mutual alignment of key values, including growth for the industry as well as ensuring students are skill-set ready to work in the Australian sporting media landscape.

As a leading industry-based football publication, Soccerscene’s core focus is to report on news relevant to those involved within the football industry. The publication focuses on sourcing stories that are centred on knowledge growth, governance, key developments, as well as major domestic and international events.

“We are all excited to form this partnership and look forward to creating strong ties with the university” Liam Watson – Managing Editor & Internship Co-ordinator .

“It is our belief that it is extremely important for university students to receive appropriate internship experience and we are willing to provide that.”

Representatives at Soccerscene echoed the message, stating mutual values and passion as key drivers for the formation of the partnership.

A University of Canberra spokesperson said: “Soccerscene’s internship program would provide a brilliant opportunity for our students and we would love to see if we could develop a further ongoing relationship with Soccerscene. We already have one (an internship agreement) with Capital Football which has proved to be a great experience for our students.”

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