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Football Queensland appoint Jacqui Hurford as State Referee Manager

Football Queensland (FQ) have announced the appointment of Jacqui Hurford as the new State Referee Manager.

As part of the 2020-2022 Strategic Plan for football in Queensland, the appointment of Hurford as State Referee Manager is one of the key initiatives already into affect along with others that are set to be launched in the coming months concentrating on improving recruitment, retention and support for referees in the state.

FQ’s General Manager of Operations Murray Bird spoke about how Hurford’s appointment will help shape the future of refereeing, by building on the number of quality referees and coaches across the state.

“I am delighted to welcome Jacqui to the Football Queensland team; she will bring a wealth of knowledge as a former international FIFA referee, and from her current roles as instructor/assessor for FFA and AFC and Westfield W-League Referee Coach,” Bird said.

“Jacqui’s appointment aligns with a focus on bettering the experience for all involved in the game as outlined in FQ’s strategic plan, and will see her take on a community-focused leadership role.

“We intend to double the number of registered referees by 2022, which will require ongoing consultation and collaboration with regional referee coordinators to ensure we recruit and retain officials to serve and enhance the game.

“We also want to increase the number of women and girls officiating across the state, and Jacqui is a great example for women and girls getting into the game.”

Hurford spoke about the role she will play with the challenges and opportunities she’ll take out of it.

“Football Queensland’s commitment to significant reform in the referee space was something that attracted me to this role,” she said.

“There is a shortage of match officials across the state and I understand that addressing this and driving participation and retention of referees will be a key focus of the position.

“FQ will be employing referee coaches for the NPL/FQPL/NPLW in the coming weeks. My role will entail working closely with those appointments to improve officiating standards in the state’s premier leagues.

“I will also be working hard on bridging the gap between the referee community and FQ’s member clubs and zones.

“We all need to work together and referees are an important piece in unifying the game to ensure that Queensland remains a leader in officiating both nationally and internationally.”

Hurford will officially take her position from Thursday the 9th of January 2020.

Source: https://footballqueensland.com.au/2019/11/29/football-queensland-state-referee-manager-appointed/ 

FFA’s appointment of James Johnson is promising but where in the world does he start?

The Australian football community cheered as a collective with Friday’s official FFA announcement that James Johnson would take the reigns as Chief Executive Officer.

The primary reason for such a reaction is two fold. Many will see the departure of former CEO David Gallop as potentially the best thing to happen to the game on our shores for some time. Seen as a risk adverse, conservative and football novice by many, Gallop failed to build trust in relationships nor any belief in his approach throughout his reign.

The site of the CEO of Australian football enjoying champagne celebrations after successful Socceroo qualifications and wonderful Matilda victories only made critics and cynics irate. Most saw football as his second or third language at best, with his rather ponderous time involved in the game of rugby league also cited as another reason behind his mostly ineffectual time at the FFA.

The second reason for the broadly positive acceptance of the appointment of Johnson is quite clearly that the initial perception and hope around his ascension to the top job will bring exactly the opposite of what we currently have.

Those invested as stakeholders in the game, all the way from the local parks to the boardrooms of some of the most powerful clubs in the land, hope that Johnson’s football DNA is strong enough to bring about the structural and cultural changes that the game needs to undertake in order to grow and prosper.

Nothing brings ‘football cred’ like playing the game and Johnson’s career with the Brisbane Strikers and the fact that he also loomed on the radar of national selectors in restricted age play during the late 1990’s, gives him just that. Now a lawyer, and after a burgeoning career in sports administration and governance, where he worked with the PFA, AFC and FIFA, Johnson returns home to Australia and will attempt to clean up what many believe is a football mess

Johnson has spent his recent past as Senior Vice-President External Affairs at the City Football Group, no doubt an asset considering the group’s now global footprint in the game. His awareness of the eight different leagues into which City Football Group have become involved with will no doubt ensure Johnson sees the Australian game through the global lens required and not an A-League restricted bubble.

With a reputation for intelligence, collegiality and creating effective channels of dialogue between stakeholders, Johnson will take the reigns in January with myriad issues demanding his immediate attention. Unifying the game will be his most urgent matter of business, yet there are a number of more short term steps that will, if taken, convince people even further that he is the man to lead the game into it’s next phase.

Accelerating the creation of a national second division that brings Australian clubs under the one umbrella is vital and something that fans have seen stalled countless times by those previously charged with its implementation.

Related Article: Phil Moss: Australian football coaches deserve better

Ensuring fans of the Australian game are permitted to support actively and avoiding the ludicrous sight of domestic supporters being escorted from stadiums for merely standing, is also key. Opening lines of communication between the FFA, stadium authorities and security companies could perhaps create some common ground and understanding.

The cost of junior football also looms on the horizon for Johnson, with an urgent need for a restructure of the expenses involved for parents of junior players. Ticket prices, stadium development and the correct expansion of the women’s game will also occupy much of his thinking in the near future.

As daunting as many of those issues sound and as difficult as the way forward may be, Australian football fans are speaking hopefully and positively about their new CEO. If he is able to use his experience and skills to implement real change and briskly, it will confirm to many that the previous CEO was doing little more than letting the game down and holding it back.

If not, Johnson will also begin to feel the pressures and weight of expectation, so clearly evident amongst passionate football fans.

Curbing facilities shortage by the power of virtual reality

It may still seem like a speculative idea that doesn’t appeal to everyone, but virtual reality (VR) could be a revolutionary way of seeing and feeling soccer and any other sport.

The potential is enormous for the use of VR – using this technology would mean watching a match for instance can become a much more immersive experience.

When fully maximised, sporting clubs can take advantage of VR technology and offer fans new experiences they have never seen before. Here are some of the positive uses of VR which revolve around simulation.

Seeing a game from a player’s point of view: If there’s a top performer in a league and their performance needs analysing, vision could be from their own point of view. Similar to GPS technology, it offers a visual demonstration and greater depth into a player’s work rate and positioning – perfect for young players coming through in need of some guidance.

Access to a sold-out game: There’s nothing worse than trying desperately to get tickets to a big occasion, only to miss out on a spot by a matter of seconds. It’s an amazing feeling going to a packed-out stadium for a final or derby clash overseas, but unfortunately not everyone can attend and instead watch from a TV. However, for the thousands that still want an equal experience of actually being there, VR can offer just that by creating the atmosphere and a 360 degree view of a ground.

Training for different scenarios: Match practice is important for testing out game plans, but requires all players to be fit at once to see how they all gel. VR could help assess what works and what doesn’t, with players potentially seeing themselves and their temmates in action from different angles. It extends further to medical staff as well, who in their training can see different situations in which they are called upon. VR can replicate different settings so that medicos are fully prepared.

The main purpose of VR is to give players, coaches, staff and fans a new perspective that they wouldn’t have seen before. It makes it easier for a sporting team to learn and ensures fans have a fair go with a similar experience to someone at a big game.

Atletico Madrid assistant connecting fans across the globe

Atletico Madrid have provided a great source for fan interaction with the use of a WhatsApp assistant that enables fans to get closer to the Spanish top-flight football club.

Fans of the La Liga side can connect via WhatsApp which has an assistant ready to communicate key information.

No matter where you are in the world, using WhatsApp is a powerful resource for direct information that helps you get closer to Atletico Madrid and gain some help along the way.

Areas that the assistant can cover are the major inner workings of the club, including tickets, membership, merchandise and an overall more immersive experience with players and coaching staff.

For example, when you first connect with the WhatsApp assistant, you will get a special welcome video message from Atletico’s Portuguese star Joao Felix.

There are three different ways to activate the Whatsapp assistant, which will work once the person first starts a conversation.

You can add the number 0023 690372769 to your contact list and sending a message to that number.

You can also scan a QR code found on the club’s official website, as well as using a WhatsApp assistant button. Everything you need to know can be found on the club’s website link down below.

Part of the digital development team at Atletico Madrid, Alejandro Ugarrio spoke about the need for increased fan support.

“We are increasingly a global club and, therefore, we have to offer global solutions to our fans worldwide,” he said.

“We realised that it was necessary to be able to respond to fans who are in other time zones and who use different languages.

“WhatsApp was the best fit for our needs, given the global reach it has.”

Atletico Madrid have committed to utilising WhatsApp are an innovative and powerful tool that already has more than 1.5 billion people around the world using the app.

For more information about connecting with the WhatsApp assistant, you can find it here: https://en.atleticodemadrid.com/noticias/atletico-de-madrid-provides-an-innovative-whatsapp-assistant-to-the-fans

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