Football West welcomes $35m major investment from WA Government

Football West have welcomed the West Australian Government’s announcement of a major investment into football.

WA Premier Mark McGowan has revealed that HBF Park – the home of Perth Glory – will receive a $35 million upgrade in preparation for the 2023 Women’s World Cup, following the commencement of works for a $32.5m State Football Centre in Queens Park.

The upgrades at HBF Park will include replacing the halogen lights with a shift to modern LED lighting, upgrading the pitch through removal, levelling and turf replacement, new player bench areas, and upgrades to the existing power supply – including a new switch room.

In addition, the funding will cover temporary infrastructure, such as additional seating and facilities for players, media and supporters to cater for the World Cup.

The range of upgrades will allow the historic Perth venue to meet FIFA requirements to be a host venue in the upcoming World Cup, as well as providing benefits for future events.

The State Government also confirmed that work on the State Football Centre had commenced, with the $32.5m facility jointly funded by Federal and State Governments.

WA’s first ever Home of Football is due for completion before the 2023 Women’s World Cup. The elite facility will be the capable of hosting visiting international teams as a training ground, as well as grassroots football and junior development programs. It will also be the new headquarters for Football West.

McGowan spoke on the potential positive impacts of the planned improvements to HBF Park.

“Securing games in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup is a massive win for Western Australia. This investment in HBF Park will provide some much-needed upgrades to our premier soccer and rugby venue, while also enabling further temporary fit-outs for the World Cup games,” he said.

“This will be the biggest football event Perth has ever seen – providing global exposure for Western Australia and giving fans, young and old, lifelong memories of the world’s best in action.”

Football West CEO James Curtis added: “The State Football centre will support all players across Western Australia as they progress on the pathway. Hopefully we can see future players like Sam Kerr come through and train at that facility and make their way to the Matildas.”

“When we look at the investment for HBF Park, we know that when the Women’s World Cup comes here in 2023 the experience for football fans across WA will be something else. What it is all about is seeing some of the world’s best footballers come here to play in Perth, and we are looking forward to hosting them and having the community turn up and really get behind the sport.

“We know on the back of the Olympics, we know how popular women’s football is, and people are very excited for 2023 to happen.”

Artist Sketch
A detailed artist’s impression of the State Football Centre was released along with the announcement.

Football West reveal encouraging female participation statistics with Sam Kerr influence

Female player registrations for the 2024 season are exceeding previous levels in Western Australia, Football West has announced.

Dubbed the “Kerr Factor” by the organisation, female registrations for the 2024 season have increased by 67.1% when compared to this time last year.

Last year’s hosting of the FIFA Women’s World Cup, coupled with the Matildas’ on-field success, has had a profound impact on girls across Western Australia.

The introduction of Sam Kerr Football, a football academy created by the Matildas’ Perth-born forward, has created an additional buzz around the women’s game at junior level.

Football West’s efforts go a long way to helping Football Australia meet its Legacy ‘23 plan objectives, which includes achieving 50/50 gender participation in community football.

Football West CEO Jamie Harnwell is proud of the organisation’s strategic plan execution to build female participation, and highlights the collective effort of the WA footballing community.

“In the lead-up to the World Cup and at the height of Matildas-mania last year, Football West committed to providing a legacy for the game in this state and this is what we are seeing with the early registration figures,” he said via press release.

“It was always about meeting the demand, and credit must go to our clubs, associations and their volunteers, as well as Football West staff, for being prepared for the growth in interest.

“The numbers are very encouraging, especially with so many women and girls having already registered.”

Harnwell remains grounded, understanding that the football experience will be paramount to sustaining current participation and increasing future rates.

“While we are delighted with these levels of growth so far, we know there is a lot of hard work ahead to provide an enjoyable season for all of our participants in 2024,” he added.

The good news for Football West does not end at female participation, revealing a 32.8% increase in overall player registrations compared to the same period in 2023.

Furthermore, the organisation reports a 75.9% increase in referee registrations across the state, ultimately ensuring that games can run and meet the rise in demand.

The current football landscape in Western Australia underlines the growth in football participation nationally, particularly for juniors and women, and Football West will be eager to meet this demand with more developments in its elite pathways and infrastructure.

Perth looking to pave new Glory through fresh ownership

The ownership of long-standing A-League team Perth Glory has changed hands, with property mogul Ross Pelligra taking the reins.

The multi-millionaire Melbournian has pledged to Glory fans his intentions of reinvigorating the club into becoming ‘a benchmark club of Australian Football’.

The sole Western Australia club have had to earn their stripes and achievements while accommodating for difficulties, which other A-League clubs have not endured. Initially the Glory were seeking to become a National Soccer League (NSL) tenant in the mid-1970s, given the talent showcased by their state representative side. Due to financial and logistical issues, Western Australia had a football outfit, without a title.

A consortium spearheaded by Joe Claudio, founded a Perth based club, known as the Perth Kangaroos IFC. Although a licence to participate in the NSL never materialised, the club where granted entry into the Singapore Premier League (SPL). Within their maiden, and only season, the Kangaroos breezed through their competition, winning the League Title while remaining undefeated in the process.  Although there was success on the field, the wheels off the field had violently, fallen off.

Italian Australian Entrepreneur Nick Tana capitalised upon the financial failure that was the Perth Kangaroos. NSL representatives, noticing the talent pool within Western Australia given their success in Asia, combined with the potential for another Australian market, led to Perth Glory’s creation, making their debut in the 1996-97 NSL Season, taking place a full year after their materialization.

Acknowledging their early hardships yet successes, the fluctuation from Glory to of the club is somewhat built in its DNA.  Both on and off the pitch, post their success in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Perth had lost its previous ambition. It had taken the club 14 seasons to taste their first A-League Title, with two runners-up medals in A-League Finals.

The consortium that had acquired Tana’s club in 2006, were unable to eclipse the dominance of their previous owner. Recently, the club was almost pawned off to an illegitimate London-based, Cryptocurrency football exchange. Insert, Ross Pelligra.

Perth fans have reason for prosperity, as their new owner is no stranger to the football world. Historic Italian outfit Catania FC had gone into administration in 2022 culminating in all board, playing and non-playing staff to face redundancy. The club where excluded from the Serie C in 2022, with their future in limbo. Pelligra, showcasing passion for his heritage and football, acquired the club in which is the birth place of his mother, in order to save it from termination.

Pelligra and his ambitions resulted in the club swiftly reinterring the third tier of Italian Football, as the club where able to win the Serie D (Group 1), granting promotion. This man oozes passion. In comparison to football club owners on an international scale, in who do have the financial capacity, do not showcase the desire Pelligra possess, in wanting to see his outfits succeed.

To succeed in both off park stability, and on park triumph, football is within Pelligra’s fabric. It is a safe assumption, that Pelligra is not undertaking the financial pressures involved in club ownership, for monetary gain. This is heritage, this is a way of life.

But how is he going to lead Perth to Glory? What does he have within his arsenal?

His passion is combated by football brains in whom represented the Socceroos.

Asian Cup and Socceroo legend Marc Bresciano is rumoured to feature as a prominent figure under the Pelligra hierarchy within the football department. Vince Grella, who is Pelligra’s right-hand man in Catania’s 2023 Serie D Title Win, is also tipped to be involved.

The warning signals haven’t quite rung out yet, however it is best believed that Perth are looking to emphasise the Glory part of their name – the era we are about to see may just be their Glory.

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