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.

Valencia launch in-seat delivery service

Top-flight Spanish La Liga club Valencia have launched a new in-stadia delivery platform, allowing fans to order food and drink without leaving their seat during matches at their home of Mestalla Stadium.

The app, called Valencia CF – Seat Delivery, allows fans to order food and beverages via a new and free smartphone application by the club. While the service will initially only be offered in selected areas of the stadium, the potential for it to grow in popularity will be massive.

In a few steps, fans can order conveniently from their phone and provides all details of food and drink offerings with pricing.

“All spectators can now enjoy the new and innovative service of food, drinks and merchandise delivery directly from their seats without missing a single second,” Valencia said in a statement regarding the app.

“Valencia CF reinforce their position as one of the most technologically innovative sports clubs in the world, providing unique experiences to the fans.”

In Australia, we haven’t seen clubs take the plunge into food delivery services, but whether to launch a service such as this will depend on appropriate infrastructure to roll it out.

Any stadiums that have clear seating or bays would mean spectators can easily be identified by people looking to deliver the food and drink. As Valencia have done, the service doesn’t have to cover each area of the ground but may be a good idea for a trial to see how the future might look – it would definitely cut down queues at the kiosks especially during the half time break.

Valencia want to lead the way in technological advancements, with an Uber Eats type service making it easier for fans on match days. Introducing something like this in Australian stadiums will expand into the digital market which clubs would be looking to embrace.

The app by Valencia is currently available on all Android and Apple IOS systems, and is a separate application to Valencia’s official fan platform. The club also maintains a ‘Centenari – Valencia CF’ historical virtual experience platform.

Valencia are seventh on the La Liga table, behind sixth-placed Villarreal on goal difference.

All NPL Queensland Women’s games to be streamed in 2020

Football Queensland

In a significant boost for football fans in Queensland, all NPL Queensland Women’s senior matches will be live streamed in 2020.

The games will be shown live on the Football Queensland YouTube channel.

The news comes after the draws for all women’s competitions in Queensland were released on Friday.

The NPL Queensland Women’s season begins this Saturday, with 2019 Grand Finalists Moreton Bay United hosting Logan Lightning.

Other matches in the opening round include last year’s champions Lions FC travelling to take on Souths United.

All first-round fixtures for the competition are listed below.

NPLW Queensland First Round Fixtures

Moreton Bay United FC v Logan Lightning FC – Saturday 22 February 4.30pm – Wolter Park 1

Eastern Suburbs v Gold Coast United FC – Saturday 22 February 4:45pm – Heath Park 1

Football Queensland – QAS v Capalaba FC – Saturday 22 February 6:00pm – Meakin Park 1

Mitchelton FC v Western Pride FC – Saturday 22 February 6:00pm – Teralba Park 1

SWQ Thunder v Gap FC – Sunday 23 February 5:00pm – Clive Berghofer Stadium 1

Souths United v Lions FC – Sunday 23 February 5:00pm – Wakerley Park 2 (Synthetic Pitch)

Benefits of NPL clubs going cashless – here’s why

Cash is briskly becoming the least likely payment option in the modern world. As is the case in football stadiums.

The United Kingdom is populated with both professional and semi-pro football clubs and in a case study of the nationwide usage of cash in 2018, there were 39.3 billion Euro handed over in transactions, with 28 per cent of those using hard copy currency.

We’ve already seen one of the leading clubs in England take a futuristic initiative. Tottenham Hotspur made their new 62,000 capacity home ground the first completely cashless stadium in the United Kingdom.

In a world that is continuing to evolve with technology and its availability, NPL and A-League clubs could well consider introducing the cashless alternative into their game day experience for fans.

In this day in age, people are less inclined to carry cash in their pockets, particularly those in the younger demographic.

Australian football should start considering introducing cashless purchases and ATM machines at all venues, whether it be at NPL or A-League level.

There are lessons to be learned from the UK. Here are the top four benefits of going cashless.

Save on labour costs

Accepting cash payments at your stadium business means committing valuable staff time to several tasks that will simply disappear if you choose to go cashless. Setting up cash floats at the beginning of the day, periodically refilling the registers with change, counting and reconciling cash for each register at the end of the day and making bank deposits all become redundant.

With cashless payments, everything is digitised through your POS system, meaning clubs are ready to go as soon as the till is switched on and all counting time is eliminated. By doing this, some UK venues are reporting labour cost savings of up to 2 hours per day per staff member.

Additional benefits include vastly reducing the risk of exposing your business to human error and, because card and mobile transactions are automatically reconciled with your bank, there is also no need to pay for a security team to support your business with bank transfers.

Increase the volume of sales

On average, it takes 15 seconds to complete a cash transaction. By contrast, chip and pin takes between 5-8 seconds and contactless transactions can be completed in just 2 seconds.

A few seconds may sound insignificant but let’s consider the difference this could make within a typical 15-minute (900 second) half-time period.

900 seconds = 60 cash transactions = at £30 per transaction = £1,800

900 seconds = 450 contactless transactions = at £30 per transaction = £13,500

While this comparison isn’t entirely accurate (there would of course be additional time to factor in while people are selecting and placing their orders), the point is well made. As well as increasing revenue, the increase in speed also improves the experience for fans who really don’t want to miss any of the action whilst queuing for food or merchandise.

Increase average spend

There have been several studies which compare card to cash payments and the simple fact is, that when using a card, people will spend more – and significantly so.

In fact, it has been reported that the average customer spend per visit to a stadium event can increase by as much as 25% when using a card payment instead of cash.

Reduce fraud and theft

Another significant reason to go cashless is the improvements such a strategy can bring around fraud and theft, both of which are serious issues for the stadium sector.

Not only is the sight of tills and cash boxes highly attractive to thieves who may be targeting your venue, but also the often-transient nature of a stadium’s workforce can make it vulnerable to fraud or theft from within.

Moving to a cashless point of sale system vastly reduces such opportunities as digital transactions are easier to track and any discrepancies will also be much easier to spot.

There are many reasons for Australian football stadiums to explore the cashless option. The sooner they do, the sooner they will catch up to the European trends that are setting the standard for stadium experience.

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