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Futsal deserves to be in the Olympics

Few sports currently excluded from the Summer Olympics are as ready – or deserving – as futsal. The addition of Futsal to the Olympics would not only bring excitement to the games through the entertainment factor, but also create further opportunities for players to develop.

On a commercial level, the sport would bring more viewers than plenty of other events at the games. Futsal is fast-paced, dynamic, and exciting, with World Cups and large tournaments being well attended in the past. The sport has a storied history with stars like Falcao and Ricardinho.

If you look at the newest sport added to the Olympics, they have neither the history, support, or top-level athletes that futsal has built.

We’ve already seen 3v3 basketball added to the Olympics, and the small-sided version of football has a far bigger base to build off. The idea that ‘streetball’ should be a featured Olympic sport -despite having no real competitions or stars – over a sport with the history of futsal is a bizarre choice.

Sports like Baseball have merit for their inclusion, however they are only played in a select few countries. Futsal, like football, is a truly global sport. When competitions like skateboarding, BMX freestyle, and sport climbing are elevated to the games, they lack the ready-made stars and players ready to step up to one of the most-watched sporting events in the world.

The 2022 Youth Olympics in Senegal will feature futsal, after the 2018 games in Buenos Aires featured it for the first time. In Senegal, there will also be the first-ever Women’s futsal tournament ran by FIFA. In Buenos Aires over 100,000 spectators watched both the first iteration of the Junior Men and Women’s futsal tournament.

Another strong argument for the sports inclusion at the Summer Olympics is that it’s already played at the Special Olympics. With this groundwork already planned, surely the next step for the Olympic committee is to bring Futsal to the Olympics proper.

Futsal already has a World Cup, but the opportunity for further competition at the Olympics games would help take the sport to new heights. The addition of Futsal would be a huge moment for the sport, which has often lived in the shadow of the eleven aside game. The game deserves its spotlight, however, this isn’t to say football wouldn’t benefit from its inclusion.

One of our most technically gifted players – Tom Rogic – was a former Futsalroo, and the opportunity to expand the national teams with guaranteed competition would be an excellent opportunity to develop the technical ability that futsal provides. If Australian football can tap into the potential Futsal brings, it was be a benefit to the game in Australia.

The influence Futsal can have on a player’s technical skills are quite clear. It creates the opportunity for plenty of time on the ball and helps develop close control that many Australian players have lacked in the past.

With futsal in the Olympics, It would create a more consistent cycle for our national teams to play in. Instead of potentially two tournaments every four years – the Asian Cup and the World Cup – We’d now have three international competitions for the Futsalroos to aim for. This could also lead to the contribution of Federal Government funding, something futsal has sorely lacked in its history in Australia.

The professionalisation of futsal in Australia would be a huge boon to a community that has been growing for years, while also giving advantages to the development of future stars for the Socceroos and Matildas.

Some of the greatest players ever to grace the football field have contributed their success to the sport of Futsal. With Futsal being included in the Junior Olympics, the path to full inclusion is being paved.

With the support of countries and FIFA, the dream of the sport being celebrated among the Olympic pantheon can become a reality.

You can sign the petition at change.org for Futsal to become an Olympic sport.

A-League supporter numbers grow – but 2 million football fans still unattached

Despite attendances dropping in A-League matches over the past few years, supporter numbers across the board have grown in the past 12 months, according to a recent Roy Morgan report.

“A-League clubs have enjoyed a substantial increase in support over the last year in line with the increases seen for other football codes such as the AFL and NRL,” Roy Morgan Industry Communications Director, Julian McCrann, stated.

“Over 3.6 million Australians now profess support for an A-League club, an increase of over 1 million (+38.3%) on a year ago.”

“As we have seen across other football codes the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many sports to be played in front of empty stadiums but live on TV to supporters stuck at home in the many lockdowns we have seen over the last 18 months around Australia.”

Sydney FC have the biggest supporter base with 640,000 fans according to the report, a 32% increase on last year’s numbers.

Melbourne Victory were also well placed on the supporter ladder, slightly behind Sydney with 632,000 fans, an increase of 46% on a year ago.

A-League Men’s champions Melbourne City and expansion side Macarthur FC also saw impressive numbers of increased support.

“Another big winner over the last year has been Melbourne City which won its first A-League Men Championship earlier this year after defeating Sydney FC in the Grand Final (between Melbourne’s fourth and fifth lockdowns) in late June,” McCrann said.

“Melbourne City’s support has increased by an impressive 50.9% on a year ago to 249,000 to have the highest support of any A-League Men expansion team.

“The newest club in the A-League Men, Macarthur FC, has had a successful first season in the league with a finals appearance, a victory in an Elimination Final, and a loss to eventual Champions Melbourne City in the semi-final.

“Not only has Macarthur FC performed strongly on the pitch but they have already attracted 84,000 supporters to rank in tenth place overall.”

Whilst all A-League sides saw an increase in supporters in 2021, Central Coast Mariners experienced the largest percentage rise from 2020 – with fan numbers growing by 90%.

In regards to television numbers, over 1.5 million Australians watch the A-League Men’s competition.

However, the report states that 3.5 million Australians watch any football match on television, including leagues such as the English Premier League or international tournaments such as the FIFA World Cup.

This represents a huge untapped audience of around 2 million Australians, something which should be capitalised on.

“Looking ahead, the challenge for the A-League will be to continue to grow the league in an increasingly competitive sporting market and find a way to connect with the millions of Australians who love their football but don’t presently engage with the A-League,” McCrann said.

“There are over 2 million Australians out there who watch high quality football competitions, such as the English Premier League, who are yet to become fans of the A-League. This at-hand market of 2 million Australians is a significant market for the A-League to target during the recovery from Covid-19.”

The Australian Professional Leagues (APL), the new body running the professional game in this country, have continually emphasised in their messaging that they want to target football fans of all types to engage with the local elite competition.

The organisation’s investment in a $30 million digital hub is set to play a big part in converting these fans into A-League supporters.

“It is the biggest single investment football has made in itself. It’s a $30 million investment into digital infrastructure and data infrastructure that will serve the football fan. It won’t be the home of Australian football; it will be Australia’s home of football,” Danny Townsend, Managing Director at the APL, recently told FNR.

“What it will deliver is content – audio-visual, editorial and everything else you need.

“Part of the reason we are doing that, and investing in what we are calling APL studios, is ensuring that by organising the football community in one place we are able to deliver the utility in their everyday lives and focus on how they choose to consume football. If you do that – they’ll keep coming back.

“You put great content in there, you serve it, and you will continue to understand that fan and all of their preferences.”

Moorabool Shire Council gets indoor stadium to tender stage

Futsal

The Moorabool Shire Council is going out for tender this week for construction of a multipurpose indoor stadium in Bacchus Marsh, as part of the Taverner St Sports Precinct development.

The project will include the development of four sports courts, multipurpose meeting rooms, an administration office, toilets and change facilities (including accessible change), a cafeteria, car park and road entry, accessible shared pathways and landscaping.

Mayor Cr Tom Sullivan is excited to have this multi-million-dollar project at tender stage.

“We’re very excited to deliver this much-needed stadium, part of a much larger investment in sport and recreation in Moorabool to cater for our population growth,” he said.

“The stadium will have four indoor courts which is enough to meet our current shortfalls and will encourage participants from a variety of sports, including basketball, netball, volleyball and futsal (indoor soccer).

“Existing sports will be able to expand their competitions and more residents will be able to participate in sports locally rather than have to travel out of the Shire to play, which is really important to our community.”

Council has set aside funding for the project in this year’s Budget, and the Victorian Government has contributed $1.9 million through the Local Sports Infrastructure Better Indoor Stadiums grant program.

Wayne Slack, Bacchus Marsh Basketball Association (BMBA) President:

“The BMBA Community is extremely excited about the opportunities that new state of the art facilities will bring for Basketball in our region, including the capacity to simply ensure more players can play in our many competitions, whilst also meeting the growing community needs that come with the general population growth expectations within the Moorabool Community.

“As an Association, we have grown well beyond the capacity available with the existing basketball facilities available to the BMBA, so we are excited that the new (4) court facility will enable increased volumes for training, playing and also representative basketball, whilst ensuring the very best in game day conditions for all senior and junior players, coaches and spectators alike.

“The BMBA Committee is heavily focused at present on increasing female participation, whilst also increasing overall accessible and inclusive basketball programs within the Bacchus Marsh region for everyone and we know that with this pending increase in court availability our Association members, our local Clubs and everybody else involved in Basketball, will see the growth in the numbers playing basketball which will in turn support the entire Bacchus Marsh community in general.

“Finally, and on behalf of all our members, we now look forward to the first dig at the site, to formally get it all happening.”

Andrew Burr, Bacchus Marsh Netball Association:

“The association is excited to see the achievement of this key milestone for the new indoor stadium, especially during these challenging times and we look forward to construction starting as soon as possible.

“The new Bacchus Marsh indoor stadium will be a welcome addition to the sports facilities in the town and will contribute to the growth in our sport.  Having access to a high-class stadium will enable us to attract more participants across all age groups and help showcase netball to the Bacchus Marsh community.”

Steve McGhie, State Member for Melton:

“The new indoor sports centre will cater for greater participation and provide state of the art facilities for kids to get involved in their local sporting teams.”

Michaela Settle, State Member for Buninyong:

“Our $1.9 million investment in Bacchus will help build a new four court indoor stadium for our region, keeping our community active and engaged in local sports.”

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