Frank Farina: We must find a way to increase investment in youth development

They say you can’t keep a good man down and in the life of Frank Farina, former Socceroo striker and head coach, football is like oxygen - he can’t live without it.

Frank Farina’s Comeback – For the Love of the Game.

They say you can’t keep a good man down and in the life of Frank Farina, former Socceroo striker and head coach, football is like oxygen – he can’t live without it.

Farina first emerged as star quality when he scored the equalising goal for the Young Socceroos against Mexico in their 1-1 all draw at Azteca Stadium in 1983. This all in front of 110,000 fanatical home supporters.

Farina’s career up to 1998 is well chronicled  in his biography, “ My World is Round”, but it was only in 2016 that he completed his last coaching assignment in Fiji.

The scorer of 145 goals in 336 senior matches in Australia and abroad, speaks volumes for his lethal striking.

Recently, Farina joined the First X1 which was assembled by the FFA  as an advisory panel to recommend measures to improve the game .

Also, he is hoping to take up the position of technical director for the Charles Perkins Academy when Macarthur Bulls start in the next A-League season.

Frank Farina is committed to leaving a legacy for Australian football and in this interview with Roger Sleeman, he reveals his enduring passion for our game.


You were part of the class of 1983 which competed so well  in the Mexico World Youth Cup, playing alongside such legends as Rod Brown, Rene Licata, David Lowe, Jim Patikas, Tom McCulloch, Danny Wright and Tony Franken to mention a few.

Apart from Tony Franken and Jim Patikas, most of the squad aren’t involved in the game to any extent.



It certainly was a great squad and our win against the European champions, Scotland, who boasted some amazing talent in future stars, Paul McStay, Brian McClair, Dave McPherson, Pat Nevin and Eric Black,  was one which will live forever in my mind.

Les Scheinflug and Raoul Blanco seemed like tough coaches at the time as they instilled their discipline on the team. Yet, in hindsight, we learned to see the game in a professional way.

After the players finished their football careers, the professionalism of the game was not so advanced so they had to seek opportunities outside of football.

The passion remained but the chances to remain in the game were limited so many of them pursued business interests with great success.


You were selected in the First X1 by the FFA and apart from discussion about a transfer system, what else has been achieved?


We recently had a long discussion about the women’s game and how it can be used as a catalyst to promote the game in all areas.

However, it’s early days and the main concentration is to identify strengths and weaknesses  and collect facts so we can make informed recommendations to the Board.


Do you communicate with Brisbane Roar, or have they approached you to provide advice and be involved with the club?


Unfortunately, I haven’t and naturally a lot of people have moved on since I was coaching at the club.

Nevertheless, I still watch their progress closely.


Did you have any contact with Robbie Fowler while he was at the Roar?


No, because he had his own people there.

As a coach, you live and die by your decisions and often the staff you select will have a major impact on the final outcome.

It’s a shame he didn’t remain at the club because the team definitely improved under his management.


What is your opinion of Dylan Wentzel-Halls?


He improved out of sight this season as he increased his speed over 10-15 metres .

Also, rather than coming back on his right foot from the left, he is now running at players with pace and taking them on both ways.

If he can keep this improvement up, he will have a great future.


What is the current status of your proposed appointment as  the technical director of the Charles Perkins Academy at the Macarthur Bulls?


With the departure of Football Director, Ken Stead, and when the major backer, Lang Walker left the club, my position became unclear.

With the rise of COVID-19 and the uncertainty surrounding the next A-League season commencement, I’m in limbo.

However, I’m in regular contact with Sam Krslovic and Gino Marra so hopefully something positive will transpire.


In the A-League, there are specialist goalkeeper coaches, but no striker coaches.

Why can’t people like you and Marshall Soper be employed in such roles?


I’ve never seen striker coaches as such but I believe they’re  used in Germany, according to Marshall Soper who was at Kaiserslauten in January.

I certainly agree with the concept because finishing is a speciality but today the game has evolved into a total team structure.

If you’re playing a pressing game, dropping off or playing counter attacking football, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a striker, midfielder or defender, you are asked to occupy multiple roles.


At the moment we have coaches, particularly in technical positions, who have never played the game at a high level.

How can somebody coach at a high level when they haven’t played at a high level?


Regarding this issue, I’ve had a problem with the coaching curriculum over the past ten years because people are obtaining Pro Diplomas who haven’t excelled at a playing level. What’s more they’re actually getting the jobs.

It’s a bit like a surgeon who gains his qualifications without ever operating.

I find the whole thing bizarre and I believe the curriculum in a nutshell is the basis of the problem.

There are different opinions on coaching but if you don’t agree with the curriculum, opportunities are limited.

The game in this country is producing robots and the fact is, they’re aren’t enough successful, former players engaged in key coaching roles.


You were a totally two sided player and during last season, I analysed that only 10% of A-League players were competent on both feet.

How can we change this situation?


I only started using my left side at the age of thirteen because I had a problem with my right ankle and wanted to reduce the weight on my right side.

The coaching of young players at grass roots is critical and often they don’t receive adequate skills training by the time they’re fourteen which is the time tactical awareness needs to be introduced.

Also, you have to ask how much time is spent with the ball by young players, away from training and games.


Many of the games we see in senior football are dominated by the ball being played backwards and across the backline, whereas in your playing days, you looked to play it forward.

How can this be corrected?


Once again it comes back to the curriculum which emphasises possession football.

A team can have 70% of possession while making 20-30 passes back and across the park but they’re not doing anything to hurt their opponents.

In rugby league, 70-80% of possession means a team will win easily, while in our game, 90% of possession doesn’t guarantee a team winning if they don’t get enough into forward areas to maximise scoring chances.

The curriculum drums into coaches’ heads to play the ball out from the back but there’s a right and a wrong time to do it.

For example, if you’re 1-0 down, are you still going to play out from the back?


The FFA Board has members with no football background.

Why aren’t we involving people like Jack Reilly, Danny Moulis, Glen Sterrey, Gary Marocchi and Peter Katholos who have achieved major success in business and football?


The answer is simple.

If they’ve put their hands up, these people are all worthy to sit on the Board.


In a recent interview, you stated lack of money was a major problem in our game, particularly with youth development.

Before the recent 70% culling of staff  at the FFA, there were as many as 105 people engaged as employees and contractors.

Also, there were significant bonuses and a large wages bill paid for the Asian Cup.

Your comment.


If money is going to the wrong areas, you have to correct that.

You only have to see the resources invested in Asian football to see how successful the game can be. Therefore, in Australia we must find a way to increase the investment in youth development and the game will boom.


You were part of a magnificent era which produced so many players who achieved at a high level overseas.

When will these legends of the game be recognised?


I’ve always said ,to know where you’re going, you have to know where you’ve been and that includes experiencing the highs and lows.

Before James Johnson was appointed CEO, the people in charge were the wrong fit for the game.

Also, the Dutch coaches predicted we would see the fruits of their efforts realised in 10-12 years but it hasn’t happened.

The success of the 2006 World Cup squad was the result of the investment in local players from the late 1980’s but at the moment our national team resembles nothing.

Therefore, the game has to provide more involvement and opportunity for former players to return and contribute, so some semblance of the glory days can be restored.

Football Queensland suspends football activity in Greater Brisbane Area

Football Queensland have suspended all football activity in the Greater Brisbane Area following the news of a three-day lockdown due to a COVID-19 outbreak.

The governing body released the following statement on their website on Monday through FQ CEO Robert Cavallucci.

“Following the Queensland Government announcement this morning of a three-day lockdown in the Greater Brisbane area from 5pm today, all football activity in Greater Brisbane has been suspended pending further advice,” he stated.

“The suspension of all football activity includes any and all forms of training sessions, matches and all other football-related gatherings, and will take effect from 5pm today, Monday 29 March 2021 for all participants and clubs in the areas of Brisbane, Moreton Bay, Logan, Redlands and Ipswich. 

“Participants who have been in the Greater Brisbane area since March 20 are also required to follow the lockdown restrictions and should not participate in any football activity even if they are currently located outside of the Greater Brisbane region. 

“The current suspension of football activity will apply until 11:59pm on Thursday, 1 April, with all FFA Cup and Kappa Women’s Super Cup matches scheduled for Thursday night now postponed until further notice. 

“Football Queensland will provide a further update on the suspension of football activity in the coming days based on advice from Queensland Government.”

More information in the near future can be found here https://footballqueensland.com.au/coronavirus-covid-19/.

TGI Sport lifts the stadium experience

As a leading sports technology company, TGI Sport are capable of implementing their digital expertise to improve a fans’ experience.

As a leading sports technology company, TGI Sport are capable of implementing their digital expertise to improve a fans’ experience.

Trusted by sporting organisations and brands since 1997, TGI Sport is a versatile business that delivers sports infrastructure, technology and media rights around the world. There is over 250 people employed globally across 12 offices.

Led by TGI’s chief commercial officer Patick Vendrely and director of digital strategy Gordon Campbell, they are able to help football clubs develop their very own digital identity, especially as we rebound from Covid-19.

TGI connects brands and stadiums to sports fans through their dynamic digital solutions. These include a proprietary broadcast & digital technology, infrastructure, event presentation, game day operations, fan engagement across major sporting leagues and a host of premier sporting venues.

TGI provides advertisers, sponsors, rights holders and brands with a unique and powerful platform to engage a sports audience – that shapes the future of sport event experiences on global scale for millions of people.

TGI are the digital and commercial bridge between rights holders, fans and brands. They capture valuable data, then analyse and utilise it to increase inventory, revenues and lead the industry in understanding how sports fans can relate to their club and brands.

Technology-based innovation, globalisation and rapid changes in consumer behaviour are revolutionising the ways in which sport is created, delivered, consumed and commercialised, where TGI can identify trends in markets. They offer a unique and consolidated approach built around data, technology and experience that ensures their partners engage and retain the fans, attract brands and deliver commercial value for right holders, stadiums, sporting leagues and brands, all while making sure that return on investment (ROI) can be achieved.

With a shift in focus towards what the landscape will look like post-Covid, TGI can look at how fans have become accustomed to technology. Due to the lockdown, to watch sport required HD video, surround sound, multiple screens at formats at home. For sports clubs, it means not only means they’re up against their own competition, but now it is what fans can do.

TGI aims to bring the best of both worlds together, where fans go to a game but are still immersed in the same technology at the stadium that they would be used to at home. Doing this promotes both the likelihood of these supporters returning and the potential for revenue through brands. Sports clubs can harness the power of mobile-led campaigns, with opportunities such as messaging, videos, live interaction from brands and live interaction from their favourite teams.

TGI have developed their Parallel-Ads (PADS) technology with LED screens inserted virtually, allowing for customised messaging for unique brands to different regions and geography.  This means that a broadcast for a match won’t be the exact same for each viewing audience, while it also relates to TV rights deals.

By delivering relevant advertising that people would like to see, it increases the revenue opportunities. TGI’s virtual technology means that each domestic feed is sold separately and the in-stadia feed can be sold differently to the broadcast feed. These solutions give sport organisations more control on how they want to be seen.

PADS technology also allows for TGI to send instant messaging within the stadium on LED boards. This creates a single platform to boost the value of brands. The idea is to bring a joined-up direct connection to the fan, rather than a scattering of disjointed advertising. By engaging with the customer directly, it can lead to bigger and greater growth.

For a number of years, TGI worked with FIFA on in-stadium advertising for several World Cup tournaments. TGI guided numerous partners through the transition from static to rotational advertising in countless sporting locations. TGI’s digital LED system solutions were deployed for the very first time on a major stage at the 2009 Confederations Cup in South Africa.

TGI are renowned in the USA as a major player in stadium branding, and have also expanded successfully into Europe – now into the third consecutive 3-year-deal with UEFA. The UEFA Champions League and Europa League count on TGI for their digital advertising needs.

In 2018, TGI was acquired by leading digital media company QMS, complementing the existing sport portfolio across Australia and New Zealand. In Australia, TGI currently works with leading professional sporting codes and organisations, including Football Australia. The ambition is evident from TGI as they strive to expand its geographic footprint and diversify revenue channels.

You can find out more on the benefits of TGI Sport here.

The future of the professional game in Australia: One-on-one with Sydney FC CEO and APL Managing Director Danny Townsend

Sydney FC CEO Danny Townsend is one of the key central figures tasked with revitalising the A-League and the W-League.

Speaking with Soccerscene, the recently appointed Managing Director of the Australian Professional Leagues (APL) believes the professional game in this country is at a critical juncture, as the representative body looks to secure a new TV deal to underpin the future of the sport.

“It’s a crucial deal for the game,” he said.

“At the end of the day, it’s about being able to provide us with some financial security, but importantly also provide us with the right amount of reach for our game. I think we need to have all of the ‘media pipes’ on into the future, as we sort of re-invent the leagues.”

Townsend admits an agreement is set to be struck within the next 4-6 weeks and whilst a summer season for the A-League looks likely, the former Sydney United midfielder would not commit to it whilst discussions with broadcasters continue.

“We are working through that process at the moment; you’ve got to play when you are most commercially viable,” he said.

“What’s really important for this sport is having a sound financial framework around the game. That will mean we need to play when we are most valuable and the market will determine when that is. Equally, we will need to look at a lot of different factors around what it will do for other revenue streams in the game.

“It’s not just about the TV deal, it’s about attendances, memberships, sponsorships and all of those factors need to be considered when you set your calendar.”

The current on-field product of the A-League this season has been the best it has been for years, with the Sydney FC CEO outlining a few reasons why he believes that is the case.

“It’s been an amazing season so far,” Townsend said.

“The matches have a quality that we probably didn’t expect coming out of COVID.

“I think the 5-sub rule has helped, being able to change potentially a third or more of your team at any given time during a match just throws up a degree of uncertainty in games, which has just been interesting.

“I also believe the youth has been a major factor. The amount of quality young players coming into the competition this year – it’s a by-product of the COVID pandemic, which has influenced the financials of the game and meant that clubs have probably had to have a look to their own development pathways more than they might have done in other years.

“The proof is in the pudding. Players like Alou Kuol, Kusini Yengi, these guys that are being unearthed are phenomenal talents and they are great for our game.”

Sydney FC CEO and APL Managing Director Danny Townsend

The attractive product on the park this year doesn’t take away from the issues off the field. The A-League currently doesn’t have a naming rights sponsor since Hyundai exited a 15-year partnership with the league last year. It’s a problem which the APL’s new managing director believes will be addressed in due time.

“I think you’ll see more once we start to roll out the APL strategy, we are seeing a huge amount of corporate interest in what we are doing,” Townsend said.

“I think you’ll see those current vacancies filled pretty quickly.”

Crowds are down this season for a multitude of reasons, one of those being the after effects of a global pandemic, but Townsend realises the game has to do better with engaging fans of the sport.

“I think what we’ve got to do is reconnect and connect,” he said.

“What I mean by that is there are a lot of people who have been involved in football over a long period of time, who don’t support the A-League or W-League. We need to reconnect with those people.

“We need to embrace our multicultural heritage; the sport was built on immigration and those cultures that come together to play the world game. Ultimately, the beautiful thing about our code is that we are the number one sport in the world. We need to be the number one sport in Australia as well. I think that’s going to come with unity, bringing people back into the game and connecting with those already in the game.”

The APL will focus their energy on a digital first strategy to connect the close to 2 million participants in Australia to the game, with Townsend explaining it will allow the representative body to understand who those people are, know their preferences and serve them with appropriate content and information to link them with the sport.

Unique identifiers such as active support will also be prioritised, with the hope being to bring the level of support back to the golden years of the A-League.

“When I bring mates of mine who are Rugby League guys or Rugby Union guys along to a Sydney FC game, they are blown away by the atmosphere that’s created by the active supporters,” Townsend said.

“It’s something we have to embrace. It’s not simple because there are other stakeholders involved that contribute to how they are managed, but we need to reduce the barriers of entry for people who want to be a part of active support.”

Unifying the sport is a key point in the APL’s overall mission for the game and Townsend claims the representative body is supportive of a national second division, as long as there is a sustainable financial framework around it.

“We are about growing football. I’m still yet to really engage with anyone involved in a national second division to understand what their plan is, but where we can we want to help,” he said.

“We are up for working with the NPL and helping them grow the consumption of their content. They’ve got NPL.TV which is a fantastic initiative. How we work with that, with APL and our content, is important in bringing that unity back to the game.”



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