Football Australia’s #EQUALISER campaign is already bearing fruit ahead of Women’s World Cup

July 20 next year will mark the opening match of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup at Auckland’s Eden Park. Moreover, it will signify the beginning of a historic footballing tournament held by two nations yet to fully realise their potential with the sport on and off the pitch.

The development of facilities and infrastructure that serve to suffice the ever-growing population base and football participation rates within Australia (and New Zealand) is one thing. But to construct amenities with one eye on contributing to a progressive and inclusive Australia that encourages greater overall growth is an entirely separate concern that deserves to be prioritised.

The year leading into the Women’s World Cup will undoubtedly serve as a pivotal stretch in the collective Australian sporting psyche, and capitalising effectively on such an influential period is what Football Australia has endeavoured to do with the launch of its #EQUALISER campaign.

#EQUALISER is an initiative supporting the ‘Community Facilities’ Pillar of its Legacy 23’ Plan, with the sole purpose of delivering adequate female-friendly facilities across the country.

In a time where significant attention is being paid to the necessity of equal pay between men’s and women’s national teams – with the Socceroos and Matildas achieving an equal pay deal in 2019 and the US national teams following suit just last month – the spotlight on women’s football is bigger than it’s ever been.  And subsequently, the need to sustainably nurture and foster female football participants presents itself accordingly as being crucial to the growth of the women’s game, something which can be achieved through investment into facilities and infrastructure.

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As an Australian football fan, it can be mystifying to see various strategies and prospective plans announced with the intention of leading football to greater heights come and go, which often leaves us pondering how and when they are going to come to fruition. Perhaps it is due to the seemingly ever diminishing state of Australian football media coverage that these plans don’t receive the attention they deserve; the reality is however that these strategies take time to implement and to see the fruits of their labour.

Pertinently though, Football Australia’s #EQUALISER campaign has already proven to be a success.

Having conducted a survey which received more than 6,000 individual responses, Football Australia revealed in their announcement of their #EQUALISER campaign that as little as 8% of respondents believe football actually receives a fair-share of government funding, compared to other sports.

In addition, a new Football Australia report has revealed that only 35% of football facilities across Australia are currently categorised as being female-friendly or gender-neutral.

In the recent Federal Budget, the Government emphasised the importance of maximising the social, economic and sporting outcomes of the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia and New Zealand 2023 – the single largest women’s sporting event in the world with an estimated one billion viewers set to tune in – and the unique opportunity it presents to influence substantial legacy initiatives.

Furthermore, the Australian Federal Government has announced an investment of $3.1 million over two years to encourage greater participation of women and girls in football, to expand the MiniRoos for Girls Program (for girls aged 6-12 years) and the Girls 12+ Football Your Way Engagement Experience Program.

The funding forms part of Football Australia’s ambitious Legacy ’23 plan to deliver enduring benefits as a result of co-hosting the Women’s World Cup Australia and New Zealand 2023, including gender parity by 2027, which would see an additional 400,000 female participants.

Football facilities

Early steps are already being taken, with Northern NSW Football (NNSWF) set to welcome nine promised infrastructure upgrades from the Labor Government following the party’s win at the Federal election.

Namely, Dudley United Senior FC is set to receive $320,000 for gender neutral amenities upgrade, disability access and toilets, whilst Garden Suburbs FC will see $400,000 put towards female friendly changerooms. These commitments are a direct result of NNSWF’s strategy to lobby Federal MPs as part of its key strategic priority of Places to Play, as well as the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 Legacy plan.

Within Football NSW, the sport will receive a $10 million boost from the NSW Government as a legacy of hosting matches in the 2023 Women’s World Cup. Separate to this, Ryadalmere Lions FC have received $3 million for improved facilities and new female changing rooms.

In addition, the NSW Football Legacy Program will support football at all levels through the construction of new community facilities, participation initiatives, high performance, leadership and development programs as well as tourism and international engagement. With Football NSW also recently celebrating their biggest Female Football Week yet, it’s evident that the buy-in is there from aspiring female footballers.

To adequately build on hosting what is set to be the biggest-ever FIFA Women’s World Cup, Football Australia must continue to deliver on their word and on the projected plans of the #EQUALISER campaign.

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Football Australia targeting new leadership appointments

Football Australia are strategically commencing a global search to fill four newly established leadership roles within its National Teams’ set-up.

Reporting into Head of National Teams, Gary Moretti, the positions include:

General Manager – Women’s National Teams

General Manager – Men’s National Teams

General Manager – Football Data & Analysis

General Manager – High Performance.

The FA are underscoring its commitment on delivering national team excellence and believe these roles will be pivotal in the ongoing improvement of the game in Australia at the professional level.

Each role is essential for the development, management and the long-term success of all high performance and national team programs and initiatives in both the men’s and women’s teams.

Under Moretti’s leadership, Football Australia’s National Teams will operate concurrently with the oversight of the governing body’s Technical Department, headed by Chief Football Officer Ernie Merrick. Later this month, they will reveal a new 10-year Technical Strategy for Australian Football.

Upon announcing these additions to the National Teams structure, Football Australia CEO, James Johnson explained the additions to the National Team structure and what it means for the future.

“The realignment and increased number of specialised resources for our senior and youth national teams stem from a comprehensive internal review of our current high performance structure when benchmarked against leading football and sporting organisations globally,” he said in a statement.

“We are a football first organisation, and this heightened focus and investment in our national teams is a reflection of our ambition. These new roles are designed to ensure everything possible is being done to deliver our strategic goal of being a leading football nation within the Asian Football Confederation and that all ages groups, men’s and women’s, are qualifying for every FIFA senior and youth World Cup.”

The recruitment process will be thorough and will be conducted by specialist recruitment firms to secure the most qualified candidates for these crucial roles.

It’s a great proactive approach by the FA to ensure the future of the national teams is consistently improving and matching Asia’s best such as Japan and South Korea who have fantastic national team structures in place.

Details of all positions will be available on the Football Australia website from Tuesday, 14 May 2024.

Football Australia celebrates diversity for Harmony Week

Football Australia have directed the spotlight towards the nation’s diversity, celebrating Australia’s rich plethora of communities throughout the 2024 edition of Harmony Week.

Funded and endorsed by the Australian Sports Commission, the aim of the event is to build a connection with culturally and linguistically diverse newly arrived migrants, ranging between the ages of 5 to 18, through the sport of football.

The week showcased the importance of respect, inclusiveness and sense of belonging amongst everyone.

Victoria were the state in particular whom relished the harmony week on a football front. Three respective diverse communities across Manor Lakes, Croydon and Dandenong were involved in the celebration of diverse culture.

Those Melbournian suburbs include Asian, African and Middle Eastern communities in whom recently arrived to Australia as migrants. Given that football is the primary sport across each of those country’s, members of those experiencing life in Australia for the first time were able to be involved in something which reminds them of home.

Members of those communities had the chance to be involved within football related activities allowing them to showcase their flair and ability.

Those in whom had previously participated within the sport had the opportunity to participate in more advanced activities, while beginners were offered to participate in clinics while being provided information about Miniroos programs.

The events also allowed for new or existing players to seek the possibility of participating at a club level, junior or senior at clubs within close proximity of the suburbs listed.

Dandenong Primary School Teacher, Leanne Skaftouros talked about there being no barrier when playing football.

“There is no barrier, no language barrier. It doesn’t matter if I don’t know your language, you don’t know my language, we can get out and play a game of soccer, which is just amazing,” she said via press release.

Endeavour Youth Australia CEO Mohammad Semra mentioned the importance of community involvement for migrants through the sport of football.

“It gives young people access to club football and also different opportunities to succeed,” he said via press release.

The community event was a collaborative effort, the Wyndham Council alongside Endeavour Youth and migrant information centre were the primary pillars called upon to make the event a success.

FA understand the significance of establishing connections amongst new members of a community, that is the brilliance of Football. The globalisation of the sport allows for these inclusive events to occur. It’s an aspect of Australian culture in which can bring an abundance of people together, all while unifying and inspiring them along the journey.

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