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Football Victoria’s fifth year of Community in Business looks to reinvigorate business partnerships in the state

In what has been a tough 12 months for businesses across the state due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Football Victoria (FV) will look to recharge the business community through their annual FV Community in Business (CIB) program.

The state governing body for football will host the first of its four CIB events this year on Friday, with Football Australia CEO James Johnson to give the keynote address.

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.

 

 

 

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.

National Futsal Championships to return in 2022

Football Australia has announced today the return of the National Futsal Championships (NFC) in 2022.

Football Queensland (FQ) will host the 2022 championship, followed by Football Victoria (FV) for the 2023 edition.

Football Australia CEO James Johnson looks forward to growing futsal’s footprint in Australia after outlining a vision for a national program.

“As part of our clear strategic agenda, we outlined a vision to create a national program for futsal and beach soccer by working closely with our Member Federations in a unified, inclusive and collaborative manner,” Johnson said.

“With the culmination of this process, we are delighted that Football Queensland and Football Victoria will be hosting the National Futsal Championships in 2022 and 2023 respectively.

“There is a clear appetite throughout Australia for football to increase its imprint through futsal and beach soccer. Queensland and Victoria now have the opportunity to showcase this and bring it to life over the next two years, in a way never seen before.”

By granting the hosting rights to different cities, Football Australia believes the NFC will be a national tournament.

The Gold Coast Sports and Leisure Centre will host the relaunched tournament on the 5th-9th of January 2022.

“The National Futsal Championships are a highlight of the Australian football calendar, and we are excited to stage next year’s event at the state-of-the-art Gold Coast Sports and Leisure Centre,” FQ CEO Robert Cavallucci said.

Anthony Grima, Football Victoria’s Head of Futsal, believes the announcement was a step towards achieving FV’s futsal strategy.

“This is a huge win for Futsal in Victoria and one for me that should be dedicated to the many amazing individuals who are at the heart of the Futsal community here in Victoria,” Grima said.

“Hosting the NFC will leave a lasting legacy for Futsal and football in Victoria and inspire and enable more people to take up this amazing sport.”

The recently announced Home of the Matildas features a international sized futsal pitch, and it could host the championship.

Kimon Taliadoros, CEO of FV, said this news ensures that Victoria remains the home of sport.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating for the people of Victoria. By hosting the National Futsal Championships, we will further enhance the state’s ability to host events and tournaments and support the Victorian economy by bringing interstate visitors back to Melbourne to experience the wide range of products, services and experiences that this great state has to offer,” Taliadoros said.

“Futsal has been on the national agenda for some time now, with Football Australia recently having released the ‘XI Principles – for the future of Australian football.’”

The return of the NFC will allow a pathway for players to compete against the best talent Australia has to offer.

Northern Falcons FC boosted by lighting upgrades from World Game Facilities Fund

Northern Falcons Football Club will receive a substantial lighting upgrade at their home ground in Preston, through a grant received from the Victorian Government’s World Game Facilities Fund.

The World Game Facilities Fund committed $3.8 million to 11 community football facility projects this year, one of them being the lighting upgrades at GH Mott Reserve.

President of the Northern Falcons Football Club, Frank Pizzo, explained the process behind the club’s push to secure the funding.

“We were advised of the grants being available by our local Darebin council,” he told Soccerscene.

“We were discussing with the council (along with Darebin Falcons Women’s Football Club – who we share the facility with) for quite a number of months about how we could get the lighting upgrades. Both clubs were screaming for extra training and facility space for our players.

“There are currently no lights at that facility, so during the winter you can’t train on it. It just doesn’t get the use we could get out of it.

“The council eventually said put in a proposal with the World Game Facilities Fund and see how we go with that, so we started that process with their help and the rest is history.”

The works are set to begin next month according to Pizzo, with a completion date of March of next year.

He believes the upgrades will have a whole range of benefits for not only the club, but also the local community.

“The benefits are going to be amazing,” he said.

“To put it into context, we probably knocked back in excess of 80 kids last year – boys and girls, who we couldn’t accommodate at our main venue.

“There are just no other venues available, so basically the kids weren’t able to play. The massive benefit is that we can get more kids to play the game we love.

“We are also now looking to use the revamped facility as a base for our intellectually disabled team. Currently, that team trains on Tuesday night in a little area on the pitch, which is not really enough.

“We’re now going to be able to give them the facilities they need. A safe facility with recently renovated clubrooms, but now also a pitch with good lighting to train on.

“In terms of the community, they will be able to use the facility as well – it is not just our ground, it is a community facility. There will be a spill over of football activities and other activities at the ground such as cricket. For the community, it’s great for them that they have access to a facility on a 24-hours a day, seven days a week basis.”

The club itself has a strong history and reputation in the local area, something which Pizzo himself has been a huge part of.

“I’ve been involved in the club since its inception in the late 80’s,” he said.

“I was a player at the club, then an administrator, a coach, and I’ve been president for the last 10 years. I’ve got a really strong emotional attachment to the club; my dad was one of the founders of the club. My involvement as president is a fairly consuming, but rewarding role.

“The club has grown in the past five years, from just having seniors and a couple of junior teams, to having 21 junior teams including five women’s teams. It’s grown from being a club with 200 members to a club with 550-600 members, it’s a massive job but I love it.”

The club wants to continue its growth and hopes further pitch redevelopments at its home sites will help with that.

“We would like to have a pitch redevelopment at GH Mott Reserve and we’ve had discussions with council about that already,” he said.

“At our main reserve at Hayes Park, we would love to have some sort of artificial pitch put in there somewhere and we hope we can continue having positive discussions across the board to reach both of these outcomes.”

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