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Football Victoria’s fifth year of Community in Business looks to reinvigorate business partnerships in the state
Football Victoria will also be celebrating the five-year anniversary of CIB in 2021, a program which was the brainchild of current FV Head of Commercial Anthony Grima and prominent business identity Professor Greg Stamboulidis.
FV’s Community in Business network was established after extensive research was conducted in 2014 on sponsorship data. At the time around 2,000 businesses invested commercially into grassroots community football in Victoria, with significant financial contributions made to over 350 clubs in the state.
Grima further explained to Soccerscene the origins of Football Victoria’s Community in Business program.
“It was created to provide a platform for businesses, football clubs and their sponsors, media and all levels of government to unite in their shared passion for the world game,” he said.
“It really was born out of one of those ‘write on the napkin’ type moments over a coffee in Ivanhoe. The idea just grew legs from that very moment. It seemed right and we knew the grassroots game needed it.
“We knew that this shared passion would lead to the development of meaningful relationships between the vast range of stakeholders in football and provide them with affordable and effective opportunities to connect with one another for mutual benefits and returns; and at the same time achieve important outcomes for football in Victoria.”
The membership-based program had its launch event in late November 2015, on the back of the Socceroos Asian Cup success earlier in that year.
“We were thankful to have the then Socceroos Head Coach Ange Postecoglou and Socceroos legend Josip Skoko, amongst others, to launch the new community initiative,” Grima said.
“Approximately 100 guests of the Victorian football community were invited to help us launch the new initiative. The event was hosted by George Donikian, who we are also very grateful to, being our inaugural MC and first Honorary Member.
Since then, the Community in Business brand has continued to grow exponentially, with over 100 businesses in any given year signing up as members to fund the program.
A major drawcard of these events are the special guests who attend the multiple functions across the year.
“Our feature guests continue to reflect the ethos of supporting every level of the game,” Grima said.
“We make sure that we are always celebrating Victoria’s football achievements, by unifying the achievements of football past, present and future in this country and the diversity of our great game.”
Guests from over the years include Harry Kewell, Graham Arnold, Craig Johnston, Archie Thompson, John Aloisi, Lisa De Vanna, Melissa Barbieri, Tony Vidmar, Paul Wade, Craig Foster, Les Murray and many more.
Other notable events over the course gave members the opportunity to meet former Manchester United and Liverpool players such as Wes Brown, Louis Saha, David James, Emile Heskey and Steve McManaman.
Occasions such as this couldn’t be possible without the assistance of event organisers, who the federation works alongside.
“A big thanks must go to the team at MSE Events,” Grima said.
“The events are very thoughtfully considered and planned, as much as possible, around special events where the celebration doesn’t end at the luncheons.
“For example, when Brazil and Argentina were in town, we gave all our members free tickets to these matches.”
Grima believes that without the support from clubs, businesses and the football community as a whole, the program wouldn’t be where it Is today.
“I am personally proud of how far the program has come,” he said.
“It is called Community in Business because it is a network that is owned and valued by the community. We are all in the business of making this community great. Together we can achieve more for our game, unified as friends in football.
“Community in Business continues to demonstrate how business and community can work together to achieve extraordinary outcomes for our game.”
More information on Football Victoria’s Community in Business program can be found here.
Karl Dodd’s proficient understanding of the nature of football on and off the pitch is unlike many others. Having undergone a playing career spanning the old National Soccer League, A-League, Scottish Premier League, National Premier Leagues Queensland and Hong Kong First Division, Dodd has focused his time since retirement in the early 2010s on mastering his skills and resilience as a coach.
A true believer in knowledge as power, Dodd’s professional post-playing career has seen him take on roles as Head of High Performance at Brisbane Roar alongside two separate stints at the Newcastle Jets, whilst also tackling the challenges of leading Guam’s men’s national team and his current role as a Technical Expert for FIFA.
Having spent the last few months recharging himself after some time away from the local game, Dodd speaks to Soccerscene about his aspirations to embody a generalist professional approach, his learnings from his time as head coach of Guam, and the current state of Australia’s football development system.
You’ve had an incredibly varied career in the footballing world, having started off as a player and then transitioned into coaching and consulting. Was it always an aspiration of yours to challenge yourself in multiple ways rather than just sticking to one field?
Karl Dodd: I got some advice early on in my career to have more of a generalist approach. That’s why my studies have probably taken me across varying domains so that when I am a head coach or in charge you have a good understanding of the environment and the staff that are underneath you. I just found with my playing career that there was always a disconnect between head coaches or assistant coaches and what other staff did. That was the main reason, I just wanted to know as much as I could to be well-informed as a head coach.
How do you reflect as a whole on your footballing journey so far?
Karl Dodd: I think it’s one that has been pretty expansive. I’ve been to lots of different places and early on playing was about experiencing as much as I could and different cultures and countries. And then as a coach it was getting into the hardest places where I could learn the most. It’s a new journey where you’re developing yourself to a new point as a coach, and I didn’t want to go where things were easy.
I wanted to go where it was really going to challenge me so that I could handle whatever was thrown at me – and I think that’s where I’m at. After recent coaching experiences I feel that – and I don’t want to use the word ‘bulletproof’ – because I’ve been in some of the most challenging places, I’m in a good place. And reflecting on it, I’m glad I did that because now I can handle – especially with the Australian landscape where you’ve got to wear multiple hats and work in low-resource environments – those situations.
You spent over three years as Guam’s National Team Men’s Head Coach. What was that experience like for yourself? What did you learn from it?
Karl Dodd: For me personally, it’s a test of your values and who you are as a person because you get challenged every day when you go to a foreign place and you’re trying to implement change. That was a big one in terms of who you are and who you want to be from a football point of view.
Some of the best learnings came from being involved in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and having Japan – who have a really big push in trying to win the World Cup and being the first Asian team to do so – hold a lot of conferences where they invited experts from all around the world. When you’re sitting in rooms with Carlos Queiroz – who was the head coach of Iran at the time – it’s a massive eye-opener listening to these experts from England, France and Croatia explain their development policies or curriculums and how they go about things. You just get exposed to so much more. I think also understanding the international calendar, that was something I wasn’t really across but it makes you think differently as a club coach. Like ‘what players am I going to sign’? ‘Am I going to see those young boys if they have tournaments this year’? There’s a lot more to it and that was an important eye-opener being exposed to a totally different environment. From a match perspective, the pressure to win and tactics behind each game is very different to club football. For smaller nations, winning a qualifier is massive to future games being played in that four-year cycle.
What was that experience like taking in the values and perspectives of these experts from leading footballing nations?
Karl Dodd: It made me realise just how narrow-minded we are in Australia. I believe we’re very ‘big fish, small pond’ possibly because we’re so isolated from the rest of the world. The fact that Japan wants to invite all of the countries and confederations to these meetings and conferences to try help each other develop and grow without ego and with the intent of ‘how do we become better’ was really interesting and enjoyable.
How did you go about implementing your values and desired style of play on the Guam Men’s National Team? It seems like it required a lot of adapting to and with?
Karl Dodd: It certainly was. We get taught here [in Australia] that you have a philosophy and way to play but it might not fit in with other countries. The playing style in Guam was totally different so you have to compromise because you want to get from this playing style that they’re currently doing – which may be a risk-mitigative one where they park the bus – to a ‘total football’ style where you’re trying to play football and have a go against other teams rather than reducing the scoreline.
There’s a process to that and you’ve got to find an entry point. Those players and the community and the coaches have to come along with that. If you go in too high, they won’t know, because a lot of them don’t know what it looks like and they don’t know what your playing style looks like. So, you’ve got to explain that and where we’re at and how we’re going to transition across and that takes time. It’s not just a one or two-year process, that’s a decade-long one because those kids have now got to come through. There’s a lot to it in terms of trying to implement a new style, but also a way of operating which was a good challenge as well.
Currently you’re a Technical Expert at FIFA, what does that role entail?
Karl Dodd: I was asked to come on board in the women’s game and it’s been really enjoyable. We’re working with a lot of Member Associations or countries in setting up a lot of women’s football development programs. For example, we’re working with New Zealand with their league development as they’re trying to create a new women’s league, same with Mexico and Singapore. There’s a lot of strategy behind it which is massively enjoyable because you can’t be a one-trick pony, you’ve got to go in and be adaptable in order to understand where they’re at and what are the cultural barriers or what are the limitations and how do you overcome this. That’s what we’re working on plus just growing the professionalism of the women’s game.
Throughout your journey you have no doubt experienced a variety of football cultures and technical approaches. Comparing your experiences overseas to here, what is Australia’s development system lacking and what are its positive aspects?
Karl Dodd: To be honest, maybe I’m biased here, but I didn’t think there was too much wrong previously it just needed some fine-tuning. Perhaps more from a coaching side in terms of methodologies and the way it has gone, but I think we threw out our main strengths which is our physicality and also our mentality.
I think we need to have a holistic approach to our development, not just the football training. We go off on tangents and go too far and forget about the other stuff. Maybe there’s a lot of misconstrued information from the sports science field where it feels like the focus is all about monitoring, rather than the fundamentals of building the capacity of players. If we want to get players overseas in to the top leagues – Japan train 8-10 times a week and our players at the same level are training four times a week and one of them is an ice bath – we have to build the capacity of a player in a safe-manner. Otherwise, how are we ever going to compete with these top European or Asian nations? There’s too much focus on recovery rather than the periodisation or the building of a capacity of a player in a safe-manner. And that’s probably been lost, but that’s just one example. Again, having a holistic approach to the development of a player is key and we just go off on tangents too much instead of doing the basics well and then adding to it.
For many Australian football fans and casual sporting fans, there is arguably a degree of misunderstanding about the time and planning it takes to nurture a country’s growth as a football nation. What do you feel is essential for Australian football to get right over these next few years?
Karl Dodd: Well, that’s the hard thing because there’s no real quick fix. The reality is the situation we’re in is because of what’s happened in the past. What we need to get right is that we’ve got to start somewhere getting it right, you’ve got to start implementing a holistic approach but then it takes time for players to come through that process. If you’re looking for a quick fix, I don’t know how we’re going to do that. The only way is exposure. The more games the national teams can play the better, but then that comes down to a cost and availability of players, doesn’t it? It’s the million-dollar question.
I think one of the main things is getting the right people involved at all levels of Australian football rather than repeating the same dysfunctional processes. If you’ve got people involved that probably shouldn’t be there and those that don’t have a good enough understanding, it will keep going around in circles. It’s why you find a lot of good people aren’t involved because some find it difficult to have the current system and way of doing things challenged. You want a progressive system that’s going to be one of the best in the world, rather than remaining stagnant.
Heartbeat of Football (HoF) has concluded its Community Football Heart Health Awareness Tour, bringing much needed awareness to heart health within the Victorian football community.
Throughout the last month, HoF travelled to nine different football clubs to provide free health screenings and education. In total 355 people were tested, 60% of who were male and 40% female, while 51% were below the age of 40.
Lack of awareness around heart health is a major contributing factor to heart disease and this showed in the testing. Of the 355 people tested, 64% did not know their blood pressure, 88% did not know their cholesterol read and 80% were unaware of their blood sugar (glucose) level.
The tests showed 31% of participants had high blood pressure, 19% had high cholesterol and 10% had high blood sugar. This led to HoF advising 42.4% of people to follow up with their GP as one or more factors tested outside the normal or healthy range.
While confronting, the findings have the potential to be life changing by encouraging people to take preventative action – resulting in the Community Football Heart Health Awareness Tour to be a great success.
The FV team also thanked the HoF team for its generosity at the latest Community In Business event. A competition was held throughout the day which resulted in the winning Club, Manningham United Blues FC receiving a defibrillator.
The Community Football Heart Health Awareness Tour was proudly supported by Football Victoria and the Victorian Department of Health’s Partners for Change program.
Since Football Victoria (FV) and HoF announced the formal partnership in June, the organisations have pledged to tackle heart health with a three-pronged approach.
Awareness & Education: player, participant, and community programs.
Prevention: minimisation of health risks through simple screening checks; and
Action: “rescue-ready” defibrillators at all sporting fields across Victoria.