Indigenous Football Week 2023 to be celebrated in the A-Leagues

Indigenous Football Week 2023

Indigenous Football Week (IFW) 2023, held October 30 to November 5, will highlight the impacts of Indigenous football programs that are supported by John Morairty Football (JMF).

As Australia’s longest-running and most successful Indigenous Football initiative for 2 to 18 year olds, JMF continues to roll out vital programs that foster positive change, such as improving school attendance and achieving resilient, healthier outcomes in Indigenous communities.

IFW is supported by the A-Leagues and Professional Footballers Australia (PFA), where we will see this recognised in Isuzu UTE A-League Men and Liberty A-League Women matches, as well as in JMF communities and schools across NT, NSW and Queensland.

As Co-Founder/Co-Chair of JMF, John Moriarty AM has been at the heart of pathways from the grassroots to professional level, supporting talented young Indigenous footballers to not only play the game they love, but succeed in school.

“We draw on the cultural strengths of our local coaches and community advisory groups, made up of local elders, Traditional Owners and community members. JMF is all about self-determination to address the extreme social disadvantage and barriers to football opportunity that Indigenous players face in many remote and regional communities across Australia,” Moriarty said in a statement.

David Williams will be the 2023 IFW Patron, a prominent Indigenous footballer that played internationally for the Socceroos and now plying his trade for Perth Glory.

“Being Patron for IFW23 is a huge honour. As one of the few professional Indigenous footballers in Australia, I believe it’s important to be a role model and help create pathways for young Indigenous players, particularly those from the bush. The work John Moriarty Football does is inspirational and I’m proud to be involved,” Williams said via media release.

IFW will now be in its third year of partnership with the A-Leagues – a Welcome to Country ceremony will be conducted prior to each A-Leagues match.

“Indigenous Football Week is an important part of the A-Leagues calendar as we celebrate the contribution of First Nations people to the game and reflect on how we can make our game ever more culturally safe and inclusive. We are proud to support the work of the Moriarty Foundation,” Australian Professional Leagues Commissioner Nick Garcia added via media release.

Professional Footballers Australia Co-CEO Kathryn Gill spoke on behalf of the organisation about their care and support for JMF, who delivers to over 2,000 primary and secondary school Indigenous children every week.

“JMF is an excellent example of how the most impactful organisations in addressing indigenous issues are indigenous-led. The PFA is delighted to again partner with JMF in support of Indigenous Football Week 2023.”

IFW and JMF are in conjuction with Moriarty Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation that provides successful Indigenous program solutions through resilient local engagement.

JMF’s sister program is Indi Kindi, an early learning program for the under-fives and their families to improve the global readiness of Aboriginal children entering pre-school and school.

Liam Watson is the Co-Founder & Publisher of Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy, industry matters and technology.

German football ends 70 years with Adidas for Nike deal

The German Football Association (DFB) has inked a mega eight-year deal with American sportswear giant Nike and move on from incredible 70-year partnership with Adidas.

The deal commences in 2027 after the next World Cup and runs to the end of 2034 with the company securing kit rights for at least two World Cup campaigns.

Nike were able to blow away Adidas’ offer and the deal was one they simply couldn’t refuse. It is reportedly worth AU$169.3 million a year, exactly double the amount Adidas currently gives the DFB which is $84.6 million.

Adidas has been a DFB partner since the 1950s and has been synonymous with the success of Germany’s men’s and women’s national teams, who have supported the company’s logo during 14 World Cup and European Championship triumphs.

This deal has caused huge public backlash from German fans and politicians who believe it goes against the traditions and history of the sport.

However, the DFB has defended its decision to drop Adidas as Nike made the better financial offer which would help the federation fund the future of German football as it would be invested into the grassroots game.

DFB President Bernd Neuendorf explained the controversial decision and gives his well wishes to Adidas.

“We understand every emotion. It’s also a drastic event for us as an association when it becomes clear that a partnership that was and is characterised by many special moments is coming to an end after more than 70 years. That doesn’t leave us cold,” Neuendorf said in a statement.

“The DFB has to make economic decisions against this background. Nike made by far the best financial offer in the transparent and non-discriminatory tender process.

“The federation will do everything we can to achieve shared success with our long-standing and current partner Adidas, to whom German soccer has owed a lot for more than seven decades.”

It is a huge loss for Adidas’ legacy, losing a long term relationship with the country’s biggest sporting team to its main rival and ultimately showcasing the bargaining power Nike has over the company.

However, the company still has a huge standing in football despite this issue and won’t be too affected by it. At the international level, Adidas has deals with higher-ranked Argentina and Italy and will still supply Germany’s kits at the 2026 World Cup – a tournament which it will also sponsor.

This new deal allows more money to tackle issues in the grassroots game in Germany and help stabilise the system as it looks towards returning to long-term international success.

Nick Galatas on addressing the link between National Second Tier with promotion and relegation

The National Second Tier (NST) competition is building towards its expected start date of March/April 2025, but its final structure has not been settled.

While eight teams were initially announced with representation from Victoria and New South Wales, we are still yet to find out who will make up the rest of the ‘national’ component.

We will at least have an update on this around June 2024, as the Request for Proposal (RFP), Assessment & Review and Completion Phases are all completed.

Association of Australian Football Clubs (AAFC) Chairman Nick Galatas has been a vocal advocate and involved in establishing the NST from its inception, but despite the previously announced foundation clubs, there is still work to do to ensure the NST starts in the best possible shape.

At this stage, eight foundation clubs have been confirmed, but there is a push to increase the number to at least 12.

Despite 26 clubs advancing to the RFP phase, only 8 foundation clubs proved to be a major drop off from what appeared a healthy pool of teams to choose from.

“There were 26 clubs that looked to be in a great position to be selected to start in the new NST,” Galatas told Soccerscene.

“From those, it would be expected to get 12 for a kick-off in 2024 but didn’t pan out that way.”

A lack of structure around how promotion and relegation will work with the NPL does leave some uncertainty for the clubs left out of the NST. Many clubs remain eager to be part of the expected four additional teams to be added for the competition’s commencement early in 2025.

For Football Australia, consistency will need to be applied across the board about how clubs go up and down between the NST and NPL when promotion and relegation commences. Football Queensland has made rules that a Queensland coming into the NST will revert to the competition it was in before it joined the NST. That is inconsistent with the approach of other member federations.

For example, with Preston Lions FC competing in Victoria Premier League 1 in 2024 prior to the commencement of NST, if they get relegated is it one step below to NPL Victoria or the original league they are in now?

Galatas outlined how everyone must be on the same page to form a unified system.

“As a scenario, we can think ahead to, say, 2027 and it’s the third year of competition, which is may also have expanded by then and include Queensland teams,” he said.

“For example, if, say, Preston Lions from Victoria and Sunshine Coast Fire FC from Queensland are relegation candidates in that season, it’s untenable that those teams would face different predicaments if relegated with Preston to the NPL and Sunshine Coast to oblivion.

“Hypothetically if we talk about relegation, everyone agrees that a Victorian-based club would be relegated to NPL Victoria even if originally from a lower league.

“However, when you compare it to a Queensland club, getting relegated means that they go into oblivion, which doesn’t add up. It’s fundamental and accepted practice that a relegated team goes down one rung and it has the chance to come up again.

“Football Australia needs to discuss a relegation scenario with all of the member federations and ensure there is a consistent approach. It will run the competition and must ensure the member federations work together with it and the clubs to achieve this outcome.”

Galatas outlined what he hopes to see out of the upcoming application process, moving one step closer to an Australia-wide competition.

“Instead of the eight confirmed teams we see now, it should be 12 teams from hopefully at least four states or territories to achieve the best competition,” he said.

“I would have liked to have seen a 2024 start date with 12 teams and have all the big players ready to go, but instead we’ve had a delay. But so long as we use the additional time to start strongly, the extra year to wait is not important in the overall picture.

“Having Queensland plus at least one of South Australia, Tasmania and Canberra to include four states from the get-go is the ideal platform to build on.

“Then we can look at Western Australia and the remaining areas as we build – we are just starting. We can grow the competition without rushing into it too much from a logistical point of view.”

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