Government facilities investment needs to keep up as Women’s Asian Cup looms

In recent times, Football Australia released their ‘Legacy 23 report’ on the Women’s World Cup which was held in Australia and New Zealand last July.

Sarah Walsh – Head of Women’s Football, World Cup Legacy and Inclusion at Football Australia – reflected on the impact of the Matildas after the release of the Legacy report. The Matildas have been at the forefront of transformative societal change, challenging perceptions and gender stereotypes while advocating for sustained evolution within the Australian and international sporting landscape.

“The Legacy ‘23 post-tournament report delves into the success achieved in leveraging the tournament, however, emphasises the need for increased funding to ensure that the legacy of the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia and New Zealand 2023 isn’t merely a momentary triumph, but evolves into foundations for a thriving, equitable, and dynamic future for football,” Walsh stated.

The numbers revealed in the report were quite staggering. The document stated that the World Cup had generated a $1.32 billion impact on the economy – with over 86,000 visitors to Australia contributing strongly to that figure.

1,288,175 tickets were sold to Australian based matches, with a global television viewership of almost two billion people.

The event itself played a hugely significant role in promoting physical exercise and well-being across the nation with an estimated $324 million reduction in healthcare costs due to this increased activity in the community.

A key part of the ‘Legacy 23’ plan from the FA was to garner increased government investment in facilities – due to the expected boom of popularity in the sport after hosting a World Cup on home shores.

Football Australia unlocked more than $398 million in federal and state government funding for ‘Legacy 23’ related projects. $129 million of the total funds also positively benefitted other sports – due to facility upgrades to stadiums such as Perth Rectangular Stadium, Brisbane Stadium, Melbourne Rectangular Stadium and the La Trobe Sports Precinct in Melbourne.

Due to the Matildas’ success, and FA’s advocacy, the Australian government contributed $200 million to the ‘Play Our Way’ grant program. This is Australia’s biggest comprehensive investment in women’s sports, with funding to address participation barriers through safe, inclusive and sustainable facilities and programs.

While the allocation of the investment between sports for this grant program has not been made public, football must be at the forefront for a large portion of this funding with a home Women’s Asian Cup on the horizon.

According to FA’s ‘Legacy 23’ report, under 20% of the $398 million worth of government funding was invested into community facilities.

“There remains a significant deficiency in facility investment across pivotal states that demands urgent attention,” FA’s report read.

“As participation demands increase, the strain on existing facilities within the 2,400+ clubs nationwide, already at saturation levels, requires immediate attention from all levels of government—federal, state, and local.

“Addressing this gap is essential to meet the expected surge in participation, improve the experience and retention rate for women and girls on our journey to the national 50:50 target, and continue fostering the wide-ranging benefits that football provides to its community of over 2 million people.

“It will therefore be crucial that grassroots football club facility upgrades materially benefit from the Play Our Way grant program.”

The AFC Women’s Football Committee recently recommended Australia as the host country for the 2026 Women’s Asian Cup – essentially earmarking another monumental football tournament to be held in our backyard.

According to Australian Financial Review, Football Australia is expecting up to half a million attendees for the event, with visitor/organisation expenditure of between $115 and $140 million, making it the biggest female edition of all time.

With the tournament just two years away, it is essential that further grassroots facility investment is allocated by government parties as the demand and popularity of the sport will continue to grow at a significant rate.

FA claims the Asian Cup represented “a crucial platform to advance the goals outlined in the ‘Legacy 23’, particularly in addressing the shortfall in football facility investment.”

“Australia is ready, one of the most multicultural societies in the world, with over 300 different ancestries and almost 20% of our nation’s population having ties back to countries that comprise the Asian Football Confederation, meaning every team that visits our shores will have a ‘home away from home’ feeling,” the report said.

“This esteemed Asian football tournament provides an ideal platform for all tiers of government to employ football as a tool for effectively implementing sports diplomacy and tourism strategies within Asia.”

The governing body believes there is an overall $2.9 billion facility gap to bring grassroots facilities in line to an acceptable level.

They won’t get anywhere near that level of investment from government authorities immediately, but considerably more must be invested before Asia’s biggest female sporting event comes to our shores.

Avatar
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.

Sutherland Shire Council commemorate Graham Arnold with oval renaming

The Sutherland Shire Council have honoured the career and achievements of Socceroos’ Head Coach Graham Arnold with an oval renamed at his junior club Gwawley Bay Football Club.

Canberra Road Oval – which is the place where it all started for Arnold as a four-year-old – will now take the name of Graham Arnold Oval. The former Sydney FC coach was welcomed to the oval by his family and friends, former Socceroos teammates, local footballers and football fans alike to celebrate his career as an Australian national player and coach.

Graham Arnold said the occasion and the recognition was a special moment for his entire family:

“Firstly, I’d like to thank Sutherland Shire Council and Gwawley Bay Football Club for their involvement in this project and say what an honour it is for not just myself, but my entire family,” Arnold said in a Sutherland Shire media release.

“This is a special place for the Arnolds – I’ve always said that Gwawley Bay Football Club was our second family – Mum and Dad were heavily involved with the club and many of the earliest memories of my childhood were here at this oval.

“This is where I grew up and developed my love for football, a place where I made lifelong friendships that have been so pivotal in both my playing and coaching career.

“To see a place so significant to my family now named after me is a little bit surreal. I know my parents – who both loved being part of this club – would be so proud.

“I’m very grateful to everyone involved in renaming this oval and look forward to young people from across the Sutherland Shire enjoying football here for many years to come.”

Sutherland Shire Mayor Councillor Carmelo Pesce was exhilarated about the renaming to acknowledge one of the Sutherland Shire’s most celebrated sporting exports:

“We’re proud to honour Arnie’s legacy at Gwawley Bay Football Club where he first laced up the boots and developed his love for the game that he has since given so much to as both a player and coach, Cr Pesce added via Sutherland Shire media release.

“It’s important that our community honours the impact that our home-grown sporting talent has had on the global stage, and Arnie’s incredible achievements – particularly as coach of our national team – will no doubt serve as inspiration for local footballing talent for generations to come.

“It was wonderful to welcome Arnie back to Gwawley Bay today and provide so many local football fans and members of our community to wish him luck as he continues to drive our Socceroos towards qualification for their sixth straight World Cup and thank him for his immense contribution to Australian football.”

Arnold has enjoyed over a 40-year football career playing for sides such as Sydney United and the Northern Spirit while representing Australia in 88 matches, including 56 A internationals scoring 33 goals.

As a manager, he has won the A-League Championship twice with the Central Coast Mariners and Sydney FC and most recently reached the Round of 16 at the 2022 FIFA World Cup where he and the Socceroos lost to eventual champions Argentina.

Arnold and the Socceroos will now prepare for their 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifier against Bahrain at Robina Stadium on September 5 2024.

2024 PFA Players Agents Conference to kick off mid-July at Veriu Hotel

Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) has confirmed that the 2024 PFA Player’s Agent Conference will be held on the July 19 at the Veriu Hotel in Queen Victoria Market.

This conference is a longstanding initiative between the PFA and the Australian Football Agents Association (AFAA).

This official conference is an opportunity for discussion between the players’ representative union and the many accredited agents and experts in the football industry.

Here the floor will be open for conversation around the tactics and strategies of managing and encouraging the huge talent within Australian football.

Some of the ascribed organisations involved in this conference include with the PFA, Football Australia, the Australian Football Agents Association and FIFPRO.

This is a key space for all parties to deliver their opinions and guidance on how best to amplify the opportunities in football and maintain the well-being of the players and industry

This includes topics such as the latest National Team CBA, trends in Asian football and the management mechanisms of players and agents.

Within the conference, there will be dialogue on key issues that have been constant in this industry including:

  • Agent Regulations
  • State of the game
  • CBA Analysis
  • National Team CBA Update
  • Commercial strength of athletes
  • Tax and financial advice
  • Trends in Asian football
  • Legal update
  • TransferRoom

All these topics are flagged by both player unions and agents as areas from which the collaboration needs to be further explored and resolved with all parties satisfied.

That’s why these conferences are held in such high esteem within the footballing community and a big step in productivity strategies.

“Football agents are an important part of the football industry,” PFA Co-CEO Kate Gill stated via media release.

“The PFA Player Agents conference, in partnership with the Australian Football Agents Association, is a platform that allows for ongoing collaboration and dialogue on emerging issues, reform and regulations within our sport.

“We recognise that a better-informed industry leads to better outcomes for all.”

The conference will be followed closely, and more information/outcomes will be presented when the conference concludes.

Key Information:

Venue: Veriu Hotel, Queen Victoria Market. Melbourne
Date: Friday, 19th July 2024
Time: 9:30 am to 5:00 pm

Most Popular Topics

Editor Picks

Send this to a friend