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FV Head of Futsal outlines future plans: “We want to host a National Championships in Victoria”

Football Victoria (FV) Head of Futsal Anthony Grima believes Victoria is the perfect place to host an edition of Football Australia’s National Futsal Championships in the coming years.

Speaking with Soccerscene, Grima, who was recently appointed Head of Futsal at FV, explained the hosting of significant futsal events was desirable in the wake of the governing body’s plans to revamp the small-sided game in the state.

“Personally, I would love to see us showcase major futsal events in this great state of ours, such as the Football Australia National Futsal Championships,” he said.

FV Head of Futsal Anthony Grima

The 2021 Football Australia National Futsal Championships were cancelled due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, with state federations still waiting for confirmation of its return in 2022.

Hosting rights to future Futsalroos matches, when reinstated, are among the notable futsal events that are also being targeted by the governing body to assist the rejuvination of the local tourism industry.

FV recently outlined their ambitions to unite the futsal community, by providing the sport with an increase in investment into resources needed to appropriately govern futsal in Victoria.

The state federation’s direction of the sport will be underpinned by the following strategic priorities:

  1. Formally recognise the sport of futsal within Football Victoria’s existing Strategic Plan 2019-2022 ‘FootbALLways’ to facilitate its growth, including in schools and to foster the increase and development of players, coaches, referees, futsal clubs and Futsal centres in the broader futsal pathway.
  2. Provide futsal competition providers and futsal clubs with a genuine value proposition to partner with Football Victoria via a revamped affiliation and support program to grow and develop futsal together as a unified futsal community.
  3. Integrate futsal within the implementation of Football Victoria’s current Facilities Strategy and advocate for increased and improved futsal facilities with local, state and federal government for the benefit of all futsal competition providers and futsal clubs across Victoria.

According to Grima, the final priority listed, centred around the importance of facilities for futsal, highlighted the need for all factions of the small-sided game to be on the same page.

“Ultimately, if we don’t work together, it’s the participants who suffer,” he said.

“Our main priority is to ensure that there are facilities for the players that are involved at a community level, but we do have some works in the pipeline that we’d love to see, such as a home of futsal in Victoria.

“There’s 40,000 players who play all across Victoria and a lot of those venues are not affiliated to Football Victoria at the moment, but we intend to speak to every single operator, every futsal club and even the indoor centre operators. I think it’s important that we all come under the banner and we support them as much as possible in a mutually beneficial system.”

Grima has been in constant dialogue with many futsal operators such as CEO of Futsal Oz Peter Parthimos, who had to endure a long stretch of inactivity at his centres due to the Victorian COVID-19 lockdown.

“Peter Parthimos has been one I’ve been speaking to regularly. I’ve known Peter across futsal circles for many, many, years.

“We are not here to compete with the providers, we are here to unite them, govern and lead them. They need direction, they need help, they need support. A lot of them have not seen their players for at least nine months, because the centres weren’t open.

“It’s really important to note, we should’ve been there providing them guidelines and support. That happened with the outdoor clubs, they got those guidelines whenever the state government released information (during lockdown), so I really felt for the futsal operators.

“So, we are here to reinvigorate them and also inspire the other states to learn from us and see how we can do things properly. We want to bring them on our journey, so when the national agenda is set up by Football Australia, everybody has been consulted and engaged properly and they know it is coming and they can be part of it.”

A strong emphasis on pathways for players, coaches, referees has also been put forward by FV, through the delivery of upcoming elite competitions such as the F-League (Victoria) and the FV State Futsal Championships.

Alongside this, both futsal referee and coach education courses will officially accredit and upskill referees and coaches from this month.

Grima, an experienced futsal and football administrator, is well placed to lead the sport into the future.

“My own experience in futsal has shown me that it is a sport with enormous appeal and potential,” he stated.

“As you can see, it is a big job ahead of us, but it is one that we are fully committed to.”

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.

Danny Townsend takes up CEO role at Australian Professional Leagues

Australian Professional Leagues (APL) have announced that Danny Townsend will step up to the role of Chief Executive Officer.

Australian Professional Leagues (APL) have announced that current Managing Director Danny Townsend will step up to the role of Chief Executive Officer full-time in the first half of 2022, transitioning from his dual role as Sydney FC CEO.

Townsend is a highly-regarded sports executive who has had a great influence in the unrivalled period of success that Sydney FC has seen both on and off the field. He has also made huge progression in a dual role leading the APL’s first year of commercial, marketing and operational management for the A-Leagues.

APL Chairman Paul Lederer:

“In a year of significant developments and progress for APL, the transition of Danny Townsend as full-time CEO is one of the most important. Danny’s commercial acumen, passion for football and boundless energy stand him apart as the most dynamic leader in Australian sport.

“Danny and APL’s Executive Leadership Team have achieved significant results since professional football unbundled from football’s governing body in December 2020, including delivery of a new brand, a major broadcast rights deal with ViacomCBS and most recently the announcement of capital investment from Silver Lake.

“With this realised, and Danny Townsend leading APL in a full-time capacity, we can really accelerate APL’s digital transformation and support its continued momentum and ambitious vision for long-term sustainable and inclusive growth.”

Townsend regarding the appointment announcement:

“I am proud to have led Sydney FC to an exceptionally strong position, with an exciting future and two world class facilities, Sky Park and the new Sydney Football Stadium, less than 12 months away. I have no doubt the club will continue to flourish both on and off the field.

“My role as APL CEO will enable me to put all of my efforts into ensuring Sydney FC and every A-League club reaches their full potential. I look forward to building on the achievements of the past year and leading and delivering on the strategy to grow the game.”

Townsend’s transition to the APL will be completed once a full handover to the incoming Sydney FC Chief Executive is finalised.

Gary Cole inducted into Football Victoria Hall of Fame

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Football Victoria (FV) has announced the first of its 2021 inductees into the FV Hall of Fame is renowned Socceroo, NSL great and championship winning coach Gary Cole.

Cole is part of three 2021 inductees to join 23 outstanding contributors for Victorian football in the Hall of Fame, with accompanying members to be announced in coming weeks.

Gary Cole has had an immense impact on Australian football for over half a century – with a playing, coaching, mentoring and administrative career that has seen him occupy roles at all levels of the game.

Cole’s passion for football – where he drives it forward with a pure agenda of what is in the best interests of the game and those who play, coach, administer and support it – is second to none.

Arriving from England with his family in 1971, Cole began his playing career with South Yarra in the Metropolitan Fourth Division, playing alongside his father and gaining promotion to the Third Division in his first senior season as a 15-year-old.

He won the NSL Golden Boot in back-to-back seasons with Heidelberg United in 1980 and 1981, claiming the club’s only national league trophy with a hat-trick in the 1980 NSL Grand Final.

Cole’s domestic league exploits were equally matched by an impressive representative career. He made his debut for Victoria in a 2-3 loss as a substitute against Hungarian club Ferencvaros in 1974.

Over almost a decade, Cole was an ever-present for the Socceroos, making 40 appearances and scoring 21 goals for his adopted homeland, 19 of which were A internationals, including 17 goals.

He held the world record for goals scored in a World Cup qualifier when he nabbed 7 against Fiji in 1981 (later broken by both Archie Thompson (13) and David Zdrilic (8) in 2001 against American Samoa).

Upon retirement from his playing career, he progressed into coaching, firstly with the Australian Institute of Sport, where he played a role in nurturing Australia’s best young talent alongside Ron Smith.

He returned to Victoria where he spent time at the helm of Heidelberg United in the National Soccer League, before returning to the Victorian Premier League with Altona Magic (two separate stints), Bulleen Inter Kings and Bentleigh Greens. He won two championships – with Altona Magic (1996) and Bulleen Inter Kings (1998).

Cole enjoyed great success as a football administrator at the top level of professional football in Australia during a period of immense change, occupying the role of Director of Football for both Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC. He was the inaugural Director of Football at Melbourne Victory when the club was formed in 2004.

Cole was contracted at Football Victoria from January 2018 to January 2019, firstly as Manager Strategy and Special Projects and then as Executive Manager Facilities and Advocacy.

He joined the Football Coaches Australia (FCA) Executive Committee in 2019 and has played an integral role in building FCA to what it is today with MOUs in place alongside Soccerscene, Football Australia (FA) and Professional Footballers Australia (PFA), as well as several international coaching associations. He is also the host of the FCA’s highly successful ‘Football Coaching Life’ podcast which gives unique insights in a one-on-one setting.

Football Victoria President Antonella Care celebrated the induction of a pillar of Victorian football.

“Gary Cole’s ongoing dedication and commitment to our game over so many years is absolutely remarkable,” she said.

“Gary’s influence stretches across all facets of football. His natural ability as a player transferred seamlessly into his off-field roles, all of which he has delivered with a single-minded focus on making our game the best it can be.

“Victorian football owes a debt of gratitude to Gary for so many years of service, which shows no signs of slowing down! On behalf of our Victorian football community, congratulations Gary on this well-deserved accolade.”

Upon his Hall of Fame induction, Gary Cole said:

“I’m obviously incredibly honoured to have received the nomination and the induction into the Hall of Fame. I want to thank Football Victoria and all of the people that made the decision to bring me into the Hall of Fame family, I’m incredibly proud and honoured.

“I also want to thank Andy McCarthur and her team, as well as Tony Persoglia and Nick Hatzoglou, who all brought together my story in the digital form. Which is a new thing for Football Victoria and the Hall of Fame, meaning it will be around for a while.

“I also need to thank my three former Heidelberg, Victorian and Australian teammates Jimmy Rooney, Jimmy Campbell and Kenny Taylor that took the time to contribute. It was very mood, and I’m very proud to be included.”

Cole’s incredible football story is told in his own words, and those of his peers in the first episode of FV’s Hall of Fame Series.

© 2021 Soccerscene Industry News. All Rights reserved. Reproduction is prohibited.

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