The round ball game pioneering again with the launch of Women in Football

Women in Football

The mere fact that groups and associations with an intention to promote inclusivity even exist, says a lot about their importance.

Without awareness, action and activism things rarely change. Just as an acute and improved understanding of the complex issues surrounding men’s mental health and the newfound and fitting determination to address violence against women are important and poignant challenges in a modern and well-functioning western democracy, the empowerment of women in sport is critical.

For some time there has been something of a comfortable status quo in existence, where more and more women have become involved in organised competitive sport, yet their self-determination within it has remained limited.

Much back-patting and congratulatory sentiment has circled around increased participation and success in women’s sport, however, it has stopped well short of allowing women to become more involved in informing and driving the briskly developing and ever changing narrative.

As is so often the case, the metaphor of football can be a catalyst for change.

June saw the Matildas showcased on the world’s biggest footballing stage in a dramatic World Cup Round of 16 loss to Norway. The fervent energy and enthusiasm around the team saw thousands travel to and focus on France and the gripping group matches against Italy, Brazil and Jamaica.

Television viewership around the globe skyrocketed, achieving astronomical numbers in comparison to previous tournaments and the standard of both the individual and team play was impressive.

Yet just 37.5% of those charged with leading their squads into battle in a managerial/coaching role were women. That is testament to an ingrained perception and existing infrastructure that still sees women’s sport as something of a novelty, an add on if you will.

Achieving a stand-alone identity without the need for delineation between the sexes when discussing competitive play is sporting nirvana. It is also something that needs to and will, be achieved.

Australian football has made its stand on the issue with the formation of the Women in Football Association.

NSW Minister for Sport, the Hon John Sidoti MP launched the initiative at Parliament house last Wednesday. The FFA has given its full endorsement and aims to work collaboratively with and in support of the new group.

FFA Chairman Chris Nikou categorically verbalised that support. “From my perspective, anything that encourages and supports more women to get involved in our game, the better,” he said.

The Women in Football Association has similarities to the United Kingdom’s model, with aims to promote and support gender equality. That not only means a continued effort to expose young girls to the game and encourage participation but also to establish a network of connectivity that benefits players, coaches and officials alike.

Women in Football President and international football reform advocate Bonita Mersiades cited the long standing “under-representation of women in football”, even though it was a sport that attracted women of all ages at all levels as volunteers, administrators, players and fans.

Mersiades and her fellow committee members are unified in their belief that a national association with a focus on “networking, collaboration and professional development from grassroots up, is long overdue”.

The committee has eight members and a considerable and divergent group it is. The secretary of Brunswick Zebras Carole Fabian, President of South Hobart FC Vicki Morton and the director of Heartbeat of Football Elia Santoro are three respected voices in the game.

CEO of the Alannah and Madeline Foundation Lesley Podesta, journalist George Donikian and Western Sydney University Associate Professor Jorge Knijnik also bring an array of skills and knowledge to the committee.

The eighth member is former Matildas coach Alen Stajcic, a man with potentially as much knowledge as anyone when it comes to the inner workings of the women’s game.

Not only will Women in Football support the players, managers and the peripheral women in the game, it will also compile a definitive and accessible professional contact list, in an attempt to advocate for increased employment opportunities for female football professionals.

That network aims to provide federations with a resource to identify suitably qualified women, appoint them and address the existing imbalance via improved professional development and opportunity.

It looms as a ground breaking initiative, both for the women and girls involved in the game as well as Australian football in general.

The journey to true inclusivity and equality continues, with Women in Football now likely to accelerate that rate of change and advance the women’s game another step in the short to medium term.

Membership of the Association is just $25, open to men and women and the relevant details can be found at womeninfootball.org.au.

The Football Business Network and Football Coaches Australia present a ‘Talking Football’ virtual networking event with Craig Moore

A dynamic and progressive sporting organisation is responding to the current demand for on-line content and the need for the football community to remain connected and engaged whilst the on-field action is halted.

The Football Business Network will host a virtual networking event on Friday April 3rd at 6pm, featuring former Glasgow Rangers, Socceroo and Brisbane Roar defender Craig Moore. The modern Australian footballing great will appear live, answering questions from a digital audience and reflect on the current crisis that threatens the immediate future of football both domestically and internationally.

There is also scope for broader issues to be raised, with the Socceroos, Olyroos, coaching, player development and Australia’s current position in Asia, likely topics on the agenda.

The event is jointly presented by Football Coaches Australia; the voice for coaches around the country, and aims to bring football back to the people for at least an hour, as the round ball game continues in indefinite hiatus for at least the short term future.

Click here to secure your registration for the free event

CEO of the Football Business Network James Boyle has once again displayed his progressive and experimental thinking by morphing modern technology, the fans and the demanding situation in which we all find ourselves at the current time. The result should be a dynamic, unique and ground-breaking event for Australian football, with one of its finest appearing and responding to the questions raised.

Boyle birthed the network in 2018 in an attempt to provide business executives and football people the chance to network in a relaxed and informal setting, as well as providing opportunities for businesses to expand their brand through sponsorship and marketing opportunities.

I can vouch for the quality and organisation of the events held thus far, having attended the inaugural event in Sydney in late 2018. On that night, current Rydalmere FC manager and former Dundee, Aberdeen, Glasgow Rangers and Scottish International Gavin Rae spoke eloquently when responding to questions from fans, journalists and business executives. The network also hosted a Q and A event featuring Socceroo coach Graham Arnold in 2019.

On this occasion it will be the turn of one of Australia’s greatest modern players to reflect on the state of the game, its limitations and the likely direction it will take in the future; particularly considering the current global situation.

Moore played 175 games with Rangers across two spells at the club, spent time with Newcastle United and Crystal Palace in the UK and also played 62 times in the A-League for Brisbane Roar in what was a storied and heralded career.

As a member of the 2006 World Cup squad, the Sydney born defender will forever live in the annals of the Australian game; converting a penalty against Croatia that aided the Socceroos’ advancement to the knock-out phase of the tournament.

Always a forthright, honest and knowledgeable leader, Moore’s openness and passion for the domestic game will meld perfectly with an expectant and enthusiastic audience, keen to hear what the 42-year-old has to say about the game in 2020 and the future direction it is likely to take.

Once registered, attendees need only follow the instructions provided in a confirmation email and join the meeting at 6pm on Friday the 3rd of April. The discussion is expected to run for an hour yet overtime seems likely with registrations building as the date draws nearer.

It should be a fantastic event, offering support for the football community during an undoubtedly stressful time, whilst also providing an opportunity to listen to one of the best players ever to wear the famous Socceroo kit.


Leading Bundesliga clubs commit to assisting fellow German teams

The four Bundesliga sides who qualified for this season’s UEFA Champions League have created a €20 million (AU$36.1 million) solidarity fund to support clubs in German football’s top flight and second-tier 2. Bundesliga during the coronavirus pandemic.

League leaders Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Bayer Leverkusen and RB Leipzig have agreed to forego their annual share of organising body the German Football League’s (DFL) national media revenue, which would have amounted to approximately €12.5 million (AU$22.6 million). The clubs will contribute the other €7.5 million (AU$13.5 million) from their own resources.

The contribution will likely be offset by revenues the four teams will receive for participating in the 2019/20 Champions League, European club football’s premier competition.

“This campaign underlines that solidarity in the Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga is not lip service. The DFL presidium is very grateful to the four Champions League participants in terms of the community of all clubs,” said DFL chief executive Christian Seifert.

“We’ve reached a point where Bundesliga has to admit – yes, we are manufacturing a product and if we no longer manufacture it then we cease to exist.”

The news comes days after Seifert warned that several German clubs may not survive the ongoing health crisis, also conceding during a news conference that “tens of thousands of jobs are at stake”.

“Without income from television, sponsorship and gate receipts we can only survive for a short period. Ghost games will be the only way to survive in the short term,” he said.

The last Bundesliga game was played on 11th March and games in Germany’s top two tiers were further suspended this week until 30th April at the earliest.

Players at Bayern, Dortmund and Borussia Monchengladbach are among those at several Bundesliga teams that have already agreed to take temporary pay cuts to help other club employees financially while revenues stall during the coronavirus crisis.

These powerhouse German clubs have taken appropriate steps to limit the damage of halted competition, as evidenced by the recent news at Football Federation Australia – who recently had to let go 70% of their staff as part of the many job losses linked to the coronavirus situation.

FFA partners with Australian Red Cross

Football Federation Australia (FFA) has announced a partnership with the Australian Red Cross to support those who are most vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic across Australia.

FFA will use its platforms to connect its network and profile to assist the Red Cross in their efforts to respond to the effect the outbreak has had on community wellbeing.

FFA CEO James Johnson said: “We are very glad to be working with Australian Red Cross on this important initiative.

“We will work together connecting people online to share essential tools and tips to give all Australians practical ways to support each other, maintain their wellbeing, and stay safely connected.

“We will ask younger people across our network to promote the importance of practicing social distancing, washing hands and staying at home to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

“Finally, we may, as this situation evolves, be called upon to help Red Cross with critical volunteering gaps in essential services and to scale their response to COVID-19 as necessary. We look forward to contributing to this important work.

“The strength of our game lies in our community and our job will be to provide our participants with a link to the Australian Red Cross to contribute online and in other digital ways to support vulnerable Australians under the guidance of an expert partner in this field. We are delighted that football, in a whole of game effort, can commit this platform to Australian Red Cross and support them in their campaign to help Australians in need.”

“We are fortunate to have some of Australian football’s most respected people supporting this initiative, and we would like to thank Tara Rushton, Lucy Zelic, Mel McLaughlin, Mark Bosnich, Jade North, and Craig Foster for their contributions to date. The initiative also has the support of our State and Territory Member Federations, and I would especially like to acknowledge Football NSW Chairman Anter Isaac and Football Victoria CEO Peter Filopoulos for their contributions,” he said.

Working with the Australian Federal and State Governments, the Australian Red Cross are helping the mental health of those most susceptible to the pandemic.

Australian Red Cross Director of Volunteering Penny Harrison said: “As we all work to flatten the curve, as a community we must look out for each other, and especially those who are most isolated and vulnerable during this unprecedented time.

“Working with FFA means we can tap into the power of football and work with its amazing and diverse community of members and fans to support more Australians who are facing this crisis alone. This is the power of humanity in action.”

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