Is a changing climate making summer football in Australia an impossibility?

Politicians who deny the obvious reality that the climate is constantly changing are few and far between. Tensions do arise when the reasons behind the changes become the topic of conversation. Such disagreement around that point does not require exploration on

However, what does require some though and reflection is the decision to play Australia’s top tiers of both men’s and women’s football during the summer months. It was a no-brainer when it came to the W-League, with a mirroring of the men’s competition and the potential for double-headers and cross promotion informing the decision.

Therefore, the powers at be made the logical choice to play the elite women’s competition at the same time of year as the men, amidst the stifling summer heat that appears to only intensify as the decades roll by.

Australian men’s football had its origins in the winter months until the decision was made to shift the then NSL competition to summer in the season of 1989/90. It was a dramatic change and one that many saw as having great potential due to football avoiding direct competition with the nation’s more established and ingrained winter codes.

Others feared the move, the heat and the potential cultural change that it would bring to fans of clubs that had existed in a steady winter routine within which they were quite comfortable.

The thinking behind the move was not only to disassociate football from other domestic codes. Matching the Australian season with European competitions would eventually see transfer windows align and allow for greater fluidity of movement for players.

Furthermore, international windows would coincide, Australia could compete in future World Cups without detrimental impact on the local scene and quite ironically, the thinking was that fans would enjoy matches in more pleasant weather, outside the wet and sodden coldness of winter.

How the thinking on weather and climate has turned since the final days of the 20th Century.

Increasingly hot conditions over the last 10 years and a clear rise in average temperatures has led many to call for a return to winter for both the A and W Leagues. Those voices cite health risks and potential disaster for players, officials and fans.

Drinks breaks and some flexibility in kick-off times exist as contingency plans, however, 40 degree Celsius days that ease off to 35 degree evenings offer players little respite from the heat. Most importantly, the standard of football is tested under such conditions and there is an obvious and negative impact to the product in both leagues.

Season 2019/20 has had the added challenge of smoke and ash from the bush fires that have ravaged the eastern and southern parts of the nation. Adelaide United fans called out the A-League and FFA after those with the power to alter a kick-off time were reluctant to do so.

The Red’s active support group threatened to boycott matches should the situation arise again.

Fans have also stayed away in Sydney and Melbourne with a throat scratching haze decreasing the pleasure and enjoyment of attending a football match. The challenge of boarding public transport in extreme late afternoon conditions to ensure arrival at the venue for a 7 or 7:30pm kick-off has also led to many staying away.

An increasing number of fans of the A and W Leagues have been content to watch matches at a local hotel or in their own home.

Whilst an outlier season of heat and oppressive conditions might not be enough to convince many that a move back to winter is required. The consistency of temperature increases and a sustained pattern has many starting to think twice about when Australian football should be played.

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology has found that 2019 was indeed the warmest year on record. The data also confirms that all states and the Northern Territory experienced both maximum and minimum temperature records and rainfall across the country was 40% below average levels.

It made for the driest year on record and led to much of the dry fuel that saw more than 11 million hectares destroyed across the nation.

That pattern has seen summer footballers roast in the highest average decade (2010-2019) of mean temperatures on record. 2019 saw maximum temperatures reach 2.09 degrees above historical averages and the current summer stands to be another in a long line of record breaking seasons.

In my view, Australian football works better in the summer months, for many of the reasons outlined above. However, should such weather patterns persist, as the experts suggest they will, further questions around the viability of holding football competitions in Australia during summer will continue to be asked.

There will indeed be a tipping point and player health and safety will potentially be the deal breaker that eventually sees matches postponed until conditions are conducive to playing football.

Playing the game in summer had immense upside but a changing climate looms as a serious threat to the move.

Staff Writer
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The 2023-24 Local Sports Infrastructure Fund to cater for participation boom

2023-24 Local Sports Infrastructure Fund

The Victorian Government’s 2023-24 Local Sports Infrastructure Fund is a state-wide investment, open until December 13, 2023.

This fund was created to adapt to the increasing need for infrastructure that is required for regular active sport and recreation.

Utilising three streams, sports clubs, facility managers and community organisations will all benefit from the following grants:

  • Community Facilities – up to $300,000
  • Community Sports Lighting – up to $250,000
  • Planning – up to $40,000

Led by Minister for Community Sport, Ros Spence, the creation of infrastructure will be made possible by planners, architects, engineers, project managers,
builders, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, facility managers and operational staff as part on the construction process. In turn, this has a direct link back to the local economy and offers hundreds of jobs.

For sporting & recreation clubs, sporting associations & leagues, educational institutions, not-for-profit community organisations, businesses and individuals looking to apply for the Local Sports Infrastructure Fund, an important note is that they cannot do so directly. Instead, they will coordinate this with Local Government Authorities and the Alpine Resorts Victoria who will apply on their behalf.

Applications close at 5pm on Wednesday December 13 2023 – with successful candidates of the 2023-24 Local Sports Infrastructure Fund announced from April 2024.

For full information and resources, you can view those here.

Football Queensland remain with Kappa for five more seasons until 2028

Football Queensland & Kappa partnership extension

Football Queensland have announced a five-year partnership extension with iconic international sports brand Kappa as its official apparel partner from 2024.

This relationship between the two parties has been very strong since they first partnered all the way back in 2017 and reinforces the support for football in Queensland that the brand has had.

Kappa has provided quality garments for some of Europe’s biggest clubs including Manchester City, Juventus, AC Milan and the Italian National team.

It’s a brand that was established in 1916 in Turin and eventually in 1978 they rebranded themselves to branch out as a sportwear brand where they focused purely on football-related products and designs.

For Football Queensland, they currently produce and provide quality on and off-field apparel for all Queensland State Representative teams including the state’s futsal representative squads. Kappa also provide on-field apparel for the game’s referees on the FQ website.

They also helped sponsor and start up the Kappa Women’s Super Cup and Kappa Pro Series tournaments that debuted in late 2021 and 2022 respectively for clubs to participate in across the state.

FQ CEO Robert Cavallucci was extremely pleased to announce this partnership extension following Kappa’s amazing support.

“Football Queensland is incredibly excited to announce Kappa as our official apparel partner for the next five years following a competitive tender process which saw us receive 20 expressions of interest and 15 submissions of an extremely high quality,” Cavallucci said via Football Queensland press release.

“In their seven years as a Football Queensland partner, Kappa has provided fantastic support to Football Queensland, our clubs and the wider football community thanks to their quality of apparel, ability to deliver on their promises and the team’s unwavering commitment to customer service.

“We’ve built a wonderful working relationship with the team at Kappa thanks to their willingness to go above and beyond to deliver outcomes for our organisation and our game, and we’re delighted to continue working in partnership with them from next year.”

Kappa Australia Director Ze’ev Bogaty shared the same sentiment for the great relationship the two parties have created.

“Kappa is a strong supporter of football in Queensland and has been proud to invest in the game since the partnership with Football Queensland began in 2017,” Bogaty mentioned in the FQ press release.

“Some highlights of the partnership have included the development of the teal shirt for first year referees, witnessing Queensland state sides dominate on the national stage in Kappa kit, and the launch of the Kappa Women’s Super Cup and Kappa Pro Series tournaments.

“As we embark on another five years as the state’s official apparel partner and continue our close working relationship with Football Queensland, we look forward to contributing even more to the growth and success of football across the state.”

There is a shared goal of improving the grassroots game in Queensland from both parties and the track record of Kappa’s immense investment over the past seven years has shown that this extension will do wonders for Queensland football.

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