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Matildas and Olyroos receive funding boost for Olympics

The Matildas and Olyroos will receive a high-performance grant from the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) to prepare for next year’s Tokyo Olympics.

The Olyroos will receive a one-off high-performance grant of $400,000 from the AIS, whilst the Matildas will have a longer-term commitment of funding from the institute beyond the conclusion of the Olympic games.

The AIS will draw the funds from the Federal Government’s $50.6 million investment package in high performance sport for the next two years, which was announced last month.

FFA CEO James Johnson welcomed the announcement and contribution from the respective parties.

“We appreciate and acknowledge the investment of the AIS and the Federal Government into the Matildas and the Olyroos ahead of Tokyo 2020,” Johnson said.

“The high-performance funding that both the Federal Government and also the Australian Institute of Sport provides our code is extremely important.”

“Football is the world’s most competitive sport – there are 211 countries across the world that are playing it, 46 in Asia alone. In Asia, Governments are investing in national team activity, so this additional support is helpful for us as we aim to continue to maintain our competitiveness against our neighbouring countries.

“We believe that the participation of the Matildas and Olyroos at next year’s Games – the first time that they have competed together since Athens 2004 – will add significant interest and excitement to the Games in Australia.

“Football has two million participants in Australia, so we expect our sport’s presence on this great international stage to play an important role in engaging Australians with Tokyo 2020, and inspiring more kids to take up sport and be active. And we look forward to working closely with the AIS and Government as we build up to the FIFA Women’s World Cup on home soil in 2023,” he concluded.  

The Olyroos will compete at their first Olympic games since Beijing 2008, whereas the Matildas reached the quarter finals of the 2016 tournament in Rio.

Philip Panas is a sports journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy and industry matters, drawing on his knowledge and passion of the game. Follow him on Twitter @PhilipPanas

New Zealand Football confirms 2020/21 season details

New Zealand Football has confirmed the details and starting dates of its national competitions for the 2020/21 season, during October and November.

New Zealand Football has confirmed the details and starting dates of its national competitions for the 2020/21 season.

The national men’s football league, the ISPS Handa Premiership will start in November, while the National Women’s League will commence from the weekend of October 31.

COVID-19 has also forced some structural changes to be made to both the men’s and women’s competitions.

In the ISPS Handa Premiership, the competition will feature eight club instead of the usual 10 teams. The South Island teams, Southern United, Tasman United and Canterbury United Dragons, will merge for the upcoming season. They will play under the Canterbury United Dragons name.

The competition will retain its usual format of a regular season with each team playing each other twice before a finals series including semi-finals and a grand final – the latter is expected to be held in March 2021.

Plans for a promotion and relegation framework have been postponed and will be reviewed before the 2021/22 season.

The National Women’s League will be played as a single round robin competition for this season. A grand final will be held on the weekend of December 19. The competition will feature all seven women’s teams.

“It has taken a lot of work with our clubs and federations to get to this stage but we are excited to now be able to confirm initial details of our national competitions for the upcoming season,” Daniel Farrow, General Manager of Football for New Zealand Football said in a statement.

“While Covid-19 and the knock-on effect of shifting community football dates has had an impact on the length of competitions and, in the case of the ISPS Handa Premiership, the number of teams able to take part, running men’s, women’s and futsal national league competitions this year was a key priority and we are very pleased to be able to make that happen.

“We also want to acknowledge the support of Sport NZ and our on-going partnership with Trillian Trust as key contributors to staging competitions this season.”

The 2019/20 ISPS Handa Premiership was called off early in March due to COVID-19. Auckland City, who were leading the competition at the time, were declared champions.

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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