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Peter Filopoulos: Hosting the Women’s World Cup will turbocharge the growth of women’s football

Peter Filopoulos FV

Peter Filopoulos, CEO of Football Victoria believes Australia’s successful FIFA Women’s World Cup (WWC) bid will fast-track the sport’s growth and generate much-needed funds for the nation’s footballing infrastructure.

“This is the most exciting football news this country has ever seen, other than qualifying for the 1974 and 2006 World Cups. For me, this is the biggest global event the country has ever won the hosting rights to. It is an enormous opportunity,” Filopoulos says.

The joint Trans-Tasman bid was victorious over Colombia, who was the only other potential host nation after Japan withdrew its bid only weeks before the final decision. The proposed date for the tournament to start is the 10 July 2023, with the final being held on 10 August.

The benefits of hosting one of the world’s largest sporting events cannot be overstated, particularly at a time when Australian football has struggled for investment, infrastructure, and viewership.

“We are growing at such a rapid rate that we have become victims of our own success. There has clearly been chronic underinvestment in the past which has created a facilities gap. In the community we have about 10,000 to 15,000 boys and girls missing out in club land every year,” Filopoulos says.

“We organically grew 24 per cent in 2018 and 29 per cent in 2019. Winning the hosting rights for the WWC will turbocharge growth in the women’s sector and help us to reach 50-50 participation, as well as accelerating the creation of more female-friendly facilities.”

At the top level, Filopoulos has already secured $15 million from the Federal Government to establish a state-of-the-art training facility dubbed the ‘Home of the Matildas’. Football Victoria will conduct a feasibility study with the State Government for further budget considerations for Phase 1 of the project, which is expected to begin in 2021 and be completed in early 2023.

Industry leaders are optimistic that the hosting rights will continue to trigger further investment into football, from the elite level down to the grass roots.

“Female football has evolved dramatically in Australia and it’s going to be fantastic to have the World Cup here. There is an opportunity to leave a real legacy from the national team right down to the grass roots, the coaches, and the facilities,” says Matildas legend and Football Coaches Australia Vice President Heather Garriock.

The Matildas will enter the tournament with a point to prove after suffering a knockout-stage exit in their last World Cup campaign, losing in a penalty shootout to Norway. The 2023 edition however will be more competitive than ever, with the tournament set to expand from 24 to 32 teams.

“We currently have an exceptional core group that have been around the team for a long time. They will be in their peak for the Tokyo Olympics next year and come 2023, it will be our best chance ever to win a medal,” Garriock says.

“We cannot forget the former Matildas who have paved the way for the current generation. I think acknowledging history is really important because it paints a beautiful picture that due to them, we are now able to achieve the dream of hosting a World Cup.”

In addition to fast-tracking the development of Australian football, major international events like the WWC act as a stimulant for a host nation’s economy and public image.
The 2019 WWC, which took place in France, broke records for total viewership and attendance figures. More than 1.12 billion people tuned in over the course of the tournament which included ticket sales of more than 1.16 million.

“The economic impact will be significant. This will start on 10 July and finish on 10 August so fans will come for a minimum of three weeks, but likely longer. In the context of tourism, people will be spending time and money in hotels and in the cities so the domestic economy will benefit greatly,” says Michael Edgley, Director of the Green & Gold Army, Australia’s leading football tour company.

“Another factor is the social benefit that is generated by these types of events. The positive atmosphere creates enormous joy and a fun experience, which is really important for women’s football. Last year’s WWC in France was right up there as one of the best events I’ve worked at.”

A key to securing hosting rights was Australia and New Zealand’s successfully delivery of past international sporting events. From the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games to the 2006 and 2018 Commonwealth Games and the 2011 Rugby World Cup, both nations have rich sporting histories and proven track records.

“Australia and New Zealand have developed economies, stadiums, and great event industries whether it is on the creative side or in operations delivery. We’re in a great place to showcase the best of women’s football to the rest of the world,” Edgley says.

“Many Australians don’t yet understand how big this is, over a billion people will watch this, possibly up to two billion. We will be able to showcase Australia, our way of life and promote gender equality. Australia will get its chance to enhance our standing in the world and create a legacy moving forward.”

In total five stadiums across New Zealand will be used, including the tournament opener at Eden Park, Auckland while eight stadiums in Australia will host matches, culminating in the final at Sydney’s 70,000 seat Stadium Australia.

 

Previously published as: How the FIFA Women’s World Cup will secure investment and drive industry growth

DFL and AWS introduce two new Match Facts to Bundesliga coverage

Bundesliga analysis

The Deutsche Fußball Liga (DFL) and Amazon Web Services (AWS) have announced the addition of two new Bundesliga Match Facts powered by AWS that will premiere as graphics during broadcasts and in the official Bundesliga app during the 2021-2022 season.

The two new Match Facts – Shot Efficiency and Passing Profile – will bring the total number of advanced statistics to eight, with each of them aiming to give fans deeper insights into the action on the pitch.

The first of the new advanced stats – Shot Efficiency – compares the number of goals that a player or team has scored with how many goals the player or team should have scored based on the quality of their chances.

The second – Passing Profile – provides deeper insights into the pass quality of a player or an entire team. Both of the stats are generated by gathering and analysing the match feeds from live games in real time as they are streamed into AWS.

Both new stats made their debut during Matchday 4 on the clash between German Champion FC Bayern München and the second-placed team of the previous season RB Leipzig.

The two new Match Facts will better showcase the action on the field – giving fans, coaches, players, and commentators visual support for analysing the decision-making of players and teams.

Andreas Heyden, Executive Vice President of Digital Innovations for DFL Group, was excited to further innovate the matchday experience for viewers based both domestically and internationally.

“Bundesliga Match Facts powered by AWS allows us to give fans more insight into the game of football, broadcasters more interesting stories to tell and coaches and teams, more data to excel at their game,” he said.

“Last year, the reception for Bundesliga Match Facts around the world was very positive, and we expect through ML and AI to continue to innovate on these analytics to make them even better.

“These two new stats give fans a view into player efficiency that hasn’t been achieved before, and we are just at the beginning of our relationship with AWS. I’m excited to see how technology will continue to evolve the fan experience and the game.”

Jamie Harnwell driving the game forward in Western Australia

Jamie Harnwell is Perth Glory’s record appearance holder, with 256 of them across three decades. Now Chief Football Officer for Football West, he spoke to Soccerscene about the changes from the NSL to the A-League, the challenges of running a football federation, and his favourite footballing moments throughout his career.

So firstly, what’s the biggest challenges facing Football West at the moment?

Harnwell: I think it’s interesting. Football West is in a really good position, being very fortunate with COVID over here and able to get out and play. The challenges are more for our clubs I suppose, and then Football West supporting them. Facilities are always a challenge for every sport, but certainly for football. We need to make sure there are enough grounds and space for people to play, but also aspects like lighting, adequate change rooms, and those sorts of things are suitable for clubs. We have a number of them almost putting up the closed sign because they have too many players and not enough space for them to play.

The other challenge for Football West and the clubs is the increase in governance requirements. We are basically a volunteer sport in many ways. And the increasing legalities and issues across that for volunteers to deal with can be difficult. So it’s time that we at Football West need to be able to support our clubs, make sure they’re adhering to good practice, and doing the right things so that they can continue to grow.

How has professional football in Australia improved since you first debuted with Perth Glory in the late 90s?

Harnwell: I think it’s actually professional football now. You know when I first started playing, I think there was ourselves and maybe Carlton who were actual full-time professional clubs. The rest were part-time as people were still working during the day, going to training at night, and trying to juggle the two. So certainly the transition into the A-League and full-time professionalism for all clubs has been huge, and just the continued increased coverage and media around the game has made us much more accessible. It’s easier to see and has a much better chance of building that supporter base across the game here in Australia.

What areas do you think the game can continue to improve on going forward into the future?

Harnwell: There’s always talent development and making sure that we stay on pace with best practices and what’s happening in other parts of the world. We are a smaller nation in the grand scheme of things in football, so we need to be smart about how we approach those sorts of things and make sure we get bang for our buck for everything that we do. The other thing is we need to try and increase the commercialism of the game and make sure that we continue to get funds into the game that can assist in the youth development that can help in costs for clubs and all those types of things. So that’s the way I know Football Australia is working hard on it. They’re starting to bring more and more partners into the game. But if you look at the mega machines like AFL, then we probably still have some way to go in that.

How can football win across young athletes into joining the sport over others?

Harnwell:
I think we’re really lucky as a game. I can’t speak for other states, I suppose – but the numbers here at Football West in Western Australia just continue to grow year in year out. We are a very attractive game for parents to pick for young boys and girls. It’s a very easy game to choose and very easy to play and train. So we’re certainly well-positioned in that respect – making sure that our clubs provide positive environments that they enjoy what they do. There isn’t the overarching focus on just winning games, but more a longer-term development based approach that will make sure talented young players will stay in football rather than going across to other codes.

On a personal level, what is your most memorable footballing memory?

Harnwell: There’s probably a few, I suppose for myself as a player – it would have been the first NSL Championship that we won. We’d had a couple of cracks at it before and sort of fell away in the Grand Final. So that first win in 2003 was huge, and really got the monkey off our back, and managing to score in that game with the massive crowd was fantastic. But I’m also a Manchester United fan, so the treble was pretty good as well. So I don’t know which one ranks better for me!

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