Crucial moments loom for Central Coast Mariners

Recently through the clamour in which the A-League churns out each season, Central Coast Mariners have been quietly charging towards what could be considered one of the club’s greatest accomplishments.

Australian football sometimes needs reminding regarding the pedigree in which their second football confederation boasts. Asia has the largest fan following of football than any other continent across the globe, residing over 800 million, passionate football fanatics. Since joining the Asian Football Confederation in 2007, Australia as a footballing nation has drastically improved. An Asian Cup triumph on home soil, accompanied by a series of successful World Cup Qualifying campaigns, has our presence within Asia definitely been understood.

In 2014, Western Sydney Wanderers notoriously defied the odds against Asian Moguls Al-Hilal over a 1-0 win played across two legs of extremely intense finals football. It catapulted a relatively newly founded club at the time, into current financial stability, recognition, and prestige across both Asia and Australia. The total prize money the Sydney-based club had earned from winning the most coveted prize in Asian Football, was a whopping 3.5 million dollars, and the opportunity to play in the FIFA Club World Cup.

Since 2007, A-League clubs at the business end of the ladder, are eligible for Asian football qualification, qualifying for both the Asian Champions League, or AFC Cup. The cash injection Asian football has had upon the A-League is what the doctor ordered for Australian football. Influxes of revenue generated through international advertisement, television rights, international sponsorship proposition. The possibilities are open-minded. As are the Central Coast Mariners who are currently three games away from their biggest pay-day in their history.

The Gosford based outfit have been custodians of the A-League since its inception. Their youth academy is considered as one of the best across the country, breeding the likes of Mile Jedinak, Tom Rogic and Mat Ryan, who all shared successful careers in both domestic and international football, spanning across Europe. A-League Premiership triumphs occurred in 2007-08 and 2011-12, culminating in Champions League qualification. A maiden Championship win in 2013, was complemented by another, a decade later. A second place finish in the 2022-23 season, resulted in qualification for Asia’s second most coveted prize, the AFC Cup.

The new format of the competition means that clubs within the tournament are divided into five separate zones. Central Coast were victorious within their zone, beating fellow A-League side Macarthur in the inter-zonal final. The Mariners have positioned themselves into a semi-final, and will face Chinese outfit FC Abdysh-Ata Kant, over two legs to determine the finalist. The new format of the AFC Cup was implemented to provide more financial opportunity and prestige to competitions across the continent, simultaneously providing clubs with more incentive to perform within their own leagues, while having a trophy in which they can be competitive in, despite their lack of financial support or global recognition.

The Mariners are primed for this opportune moment. They overcame a relentless Macarthur in a gruelling inter-zonal final that has set them up for the the prestigious Asian title, and all the financial beneficiaries it can allow the yellow and navy to continue their resurgence and ultimately the key to becoming the powerhouse within Australian football.

Football Australia bolsters leadership with key new appointments

Football Australia has confirmed the appointments of Briana Harvey as General Manager of the Women’s National Teams and David Mason for the role of General Manager of the Men’s National Teams.

These strategic appointments are part of Football Australia’s ongoing efforts to strengthen and enhance the leadership and management of its national teams, ensuring both the women’s and men’s programs benefit from experienced and dedicated leadership.

Harvey has an extensive background in sports management, having held key roles at prominent organizations such as Hockey Victoria, the Australian Football League, Hawthorn Football Club, and, most recently, at the GWS GIANTS Football Club. Her diverse experience across these major sporting bodies highlights her expertise and leadership capabilities in the field.

Mason’s deep involvement with Australian football stretches back to 1998. Throughout his career, he has held numerous management positions in media and communications, football operations, and club administration at Northern Spirit, Parramatta Power, Sydney FC, and Football Australia.

His extensive experience across these diverse roles has equipped him with a comprehensive understanding of the sport’s landscape, making him a valuable asset in his new role.

For the last seven years, Mason has served as CEO of Manly Warringah Football Association and Manly United FC, one of Australia’s largest football associations. Returning to Football Australia, Mason brings with him a vast reservoir of knowledge in local, regional, and global football.

His experience is complemented by a deep familiarity with Australia’s National Football Teams, positioning him to make significant contributions in his new role.

Beginning on August 12, both Harvey and Mason will take charge of the strategic, operational, and administrative aspects of Football Australia’s Men’s and Women’s National Teams. Their responsibilities will include planning and managing budgets, as well as coordinating overall annual match schedules.

In their roles, they will ensure that all logistical and operational needs are met, driving the success and efficiency of the national teams’ programs.

Their leadership will be pivotal in shaping the future of Australian football on both the national and international stages.

Head of National Teams Gary Moretti expressed his excitement of the designation via press release.

“We are delighted to have secured the services of both Briana and David who as individuals and collectively bring a wealth of industry knowledge to Football Australia,” he said.

“Briana has a strong corporate pedigree with extensive experience within elite level sport. Her background and passion for women’s sport will be an invaluable asset to our National Teams both now and in the future.

“David is a football person and has contributed to the sport at all levels for almost three decades. In addition to his strong football acumen, David brings significant business and operational experience from his highly successful tenure as a CEO within the football industry.

“Along with Andrew McKenzie (General Manager – High Performance), the appointments of Briana and David will strengthen the management and future prospects of our National Teams as we look to create an elite performance and operational environment featuring a world’s best-practice focus.”

CEO of Football Australia James Johnson added how their experience and wealth of knowledge will ensure operation excellence via press release.

“The appointments of Briana and David are strategic moves that align with our vision to enhance the performance and success of our National Teams. Their combined experience and leadership will play a crucial role in ensuring operational excellence, so we remain competitive on the global stage and continue to inspire the next generation of football talent in Australia.”

Football Australia – National Teams Senior Management

Head of National Teams: Gary Moretti
General Manager – Women’s National Teams: Briana Harvey (commencing 12 August)
General Manager – Men’s National Teams: David Mason (commencing 12 August)
General Manager – High Performance: Andrew McKenzie (commenced 10 July)
General Manager – Football Analysis, Data and Insights (to be appointed)

The creation of four new leadership positions within the National Teams underscores Football Australia’s commitment and investment in its Senior and Youth National Teams, as outlined in the XI Principles for the future of Australian Football. Every position plays a critical role in advancing, overseeing, and ensuring the sustained success of all High Performance and National Team programs and initiatives.

Football South Australia extend collaboration with SAASL

Football South Australia and the South Australian Amateur Soccer League (SAASL) have extended their collaboration, strengthening their cooperation in developing football in the state.

There was a meeting held recently where key representatives from both organisations discussed ways to continue their growth of the game in the state at all levels.

Since the partnership began in 2018, the two parties have made a meaningful impact in the South Australian football community.

Several key initiatives have been launched through this collaboration which include:

Referee Development: Football SA’s Referees Department is now responsible for assigning match officials for all SAASL games. In 2024, the strategic emphasis by Football SA and SAASL on referees has led to a notable improvement in match official coverage for Senior Divisions in both Saturday and Sunday leagues.

Officiating Initiatives: Football SA has introduced various initiatives to recruit new referees and support young officials, such as State Championships and specialised mentorship programs. Meanwhile, SAASL is actively working on strategies to enhance their Club Referee program, offering a clear pathway for both new and returning referees.

Respect Campaign: The Armband Campaign to protect young referees has been successfully launched. Embraced by clubs, participants, and the football community, the bright orange armbands worn by referees under 18 serve as a clear reminder that these officials are minors.

Venue Support: ServiceFM Stadium has been the venue for major SAASL events, offering a professional environment for amateur league matches.

Streamlined Registration: SAASL players will keep registering via a consistent Player Registration System, which enhances administrative efficiency and ensures the integrity of player registrations.

Shared Competition Management System: Offering uniform and efficient Competition Management Processes across all competitions, enhancing efficiency for clubs, referees, and association administrators.

Enhanced Player Protection: SAASL players are covered by the National Insurance Scheme, which offers essential protection for clubs, administrators, volunteers, and participants.

Michael Carter, CEO of Football SA spoke very highly of the partnership and its effects on the game in SA.

“This extension represents more than just a renewal of our agreement,” he said in a statement.

“It’s a testament to the evolving and strengthening relationship between Football SA and SAASL. We’re working closer together than ever before, and the results speak for themselves.”

George Fotopoulos, President of SAASL and SAASL Board members and Executive Officer Darcy Evan shared a similar sentiment about the excitement of this continued long-term partnership.

“We are pleased to continue our partnership with Football SA. Our ongoing affiliation has seen a significant improvement in our Referee coverage in 2024, that is due to the collaboration and hard work of both the Football SA and the SAASL administration teams. We look forward to further opportunities the partnership will provide,” SAASL confirmed in a statement.

Overall, this partnership enhances the infrastructure, safety, and quality of football in South Australia, encouraging greater participation for players, coaches and referees which is helping the sport thrive at all levels.

Amateur and grassroots football success is the core to any good footballing foundation and this prosperous partnership continuing is a brilliant result.

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