Football Coaches Australia announces Kelly Rourke as new CEO

Kelly Rourke

Football Coaches Australia (FCA) has announced Kelly Rourke as the new Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

An experienced leader with a wealth of industry background, Rourke has spent 20 years in the UK police force and has built a strong reputation in Australia.

Her past roles include Greyhound Racing NSW and Head of Control and Compliance with Tabcorp, while she spent five years with National Rugby League South Australia as the State Manager, making significant strides for the sport in South Australia.

Rourke was also the Chair for The Marjorie Jackson-Nelson Centre for Women’s Sport, offering the chance to empower women in various sporting roles from athletes and coaches to officials, administrators, board members and community players. This supports females to play, lead and change the game for future generations.

Currently, Rourke is with Greyhound Racing SA as General Manager, while she also volunteered for the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 events in Adelaide and even plays as an attacking defender in her home state.

Speaking to Soccerscene, Rourke shared what the CEO role means to her.

“I’m a big football fan and being English it’s something that I’ve been involved in my whole life,” she said.

“It’s an amazing opportunity to give back to coaches who generally get forgotten about.

“Everything that FCA does has the greatest intention for the game – the Australian coaching community has a lot of potential and it’s something I wanted to be part of.”

Working with President Gary Cole, Rourke will be a forward-thinker to drive the standards for coaching in Australia.

“Gary goes above and beyond and his background in the game speaks for itself,” Rourke said.

“His enthusiasm emanates through – for example with The Football Coaching Life Podcast and it’s going to be great to hear more stories.

“He was one of the first people I spoke to and was instrumental in wanting me to take the CEO role.”

As she settles into the CEO position, Rourke outlined what she hopes to achieve in the coming weeks and months.

“We just need to take some time to figure out where we want to take FCA, for grassroots right up to elite coaching,” she said.

“I really need to understand what coaches want from us and from there that’s where I can direct my focus.”

“Being English, I look at the Premier League and see the opportunities created down in the lower divisions and the amount of jobs created, with female coaches involved in that.

“Holistically from grassroots, we’ll look at the pyramid of coaching – if Australia want to be the best in the world we need investment in this area.

“For example, what happens when players get to the end of their career – we need a clear and established pathway, and with my background I can bring a different lens to see what can be improved.”

Off the back of FIFA World Cup exploits for both the Socceroos and Matildas, the future of Australian coaching will remain an integral growth area for the game.

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Liam Watson is the Co-Founder & Publisher of Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy, industry matters and technology.

FIFPRO Asia/Oceania report of AFC Champions League assesses the cost of competition for players and clubs

FIFPRO Asia/Oceania has published a report on key financial findings from the Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) flagship club competition, the AFC Champions League (ACL).

The report, AFC Champions League Analysis Report: Counting the cost for players and clubs, was produced alongside sporting intelligence agency Twenty First Group (TFG).

This analysis is in response to the announcement of AFC Champions League Elite (ACLE) commencing in July this year, as revealed by the AFC in December 2022.

Based on TFG’s analysis, insights and feedback from participating players and clubs, the report addresses the feasibility of running ACLE with key factors including on-field quality and competitive balance, attendances and fan engagement, economics for clubs and players, travel and workload, competition design, and football development outcomes.

The research undertaken focusses on the value of introducing ACLE, based on the current operations of the ACL.

“This report analyses the merits and drawbacks of the current AFC Champions League based on various data and the results indicate that the merits do not outweigh the drawbacks for most players and clubs, making it an unsustainable system,” FIFPRO Asia/Oceania Chair Takuya Yamazaki outlines in the report.

“However, this does not mean that the future of football in Asia is bleak. On the contrary, we believe that this economically significant region can lead a discussion for truly sustainable competition formats.”

The report is the most comprehensive public analysis of the ACL and includes recommendations for what the AFC should be implementing.

“For players, the development of competitions is central to their employment conditions and future opportunities. As its primary workforce, the players are determined to play their role to shape a sustainable and innovation-driven future for the football sector in Asia,” Yamazaki added.

World Leagues Forum is involved in representing professional football leagues on a global level. General Secretary Jerome Perlemuter explained that collaboration between all stakeholders in the Asian region would help shape and deliver sustainable competitions.

“FIFPRO’s contribution to shaping the future of Asian continental competitions is most welcome,” Perlemuter said.

“Sustainable football development requires confederations, leagues and players to work together with a common objective to shape high potential continental competitions in a consistent global calendar. In this context, it is important to consider economic, geographical and cultural specificities. We look forward to continuing these discussions with FIFPRO and all stakeholders.”

To see the report in full, you can do so here.

Wellington Phoenix team up with Chinese outfit Tianjin Tiger

Wellington Phoenix have partnered with Chinese Super League team Tianjin Tiger to boost football growth in both nations.

As part of the Wellington Phoenix Tianjin Tiger Sister City Friendship, the clubs have agreed to hold an annual encounter between their men’s first teams.

The inaugural Wellington Phoenix F.C. vs. Tianjin Tiger F.C. Sister City Shield match is set to take place in Tianjin this September, with the second in Wellington next year.

The strategic collaboration was formed after Phoenix general manager David Dome visited Tianjin in September as part of a business delegation headed by Wellington Mayor Tory Whanau.

The club hosted a delegation from Tianjin, and the two sides signed the Memorandum of Understanding at the Mayor’s office.

Phoenix general manager David Dome was thrilled with the partnership going through.

“The mayoral delegation to China last year was invaluable and I’m thrilled about this partnership with Tianjin Jinmen Tiger, which will be of benefit to the club on multiple levels,” he said via press release.

“Not only will the men get to play a Chinese Super League side as part of their A-League pre-season each year, but the academy will soon benefit from an influx of footballers from Tianjin.

“We’re looking to grow our academy to have an international component and Tianjin Jinmen have committed to sending some young players to Wellington to attend training camps in July and we’re discussing the possibility of their juniors being part of a new international academy annual programme.

“International students are essential for the secondary and tertiary education sector in Wellington and we are evaluating how an elite international academy focused on football can be part of New Zealand’s international education offering.”

Wellington mayor Tory Whanau added that the city is excited about the opportunity. 

“I’d like to congratulate David Dome and the wider team for the work they’ve done on this MoU,” he stated via press release.

“I’m beyond stoked that the delegation last September has resulted in this MoU between the Wellington Phoenix and Tianjin Jinmen Tiger. 

“The development opportunities for both the clubs will be invaluable to not only football but also our cities.”

The Phoenix are enjoying a successful A-league campaign where they currently sit top of the table 18 games into the season.

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