FFA CEO James Johnson set to shake-up structure

New Football Federation Australia (FFA) CEO James Johnson says addressing how the organisation can adapt to constant change will be one of his biggest priorities.

Speaking in front of media for the first time since his introduction to the CEO role, Johnson has come with a plan to transform the FFA into an organisation fit to handle any challenge that comes its way, both in a local and international scale.

Here are some of the key points that Johnson made as part of his introduction, where he discusses how the FFA needs to signal its intent as it aims to become a leading and respected organisation in the global world.

Related Story: FFA’s appointment of James Johnson is promising but where in the world does he start?

He outlines where he thinks FFA is at today and what he’s seen.

“The FFA has been through a very challenging period, which in our history in football has been the most transformational we’ve been through,” he said.

“In 2018 we went through the congress reform – during my time at FIFA I got to see many of these all over the world and know what sort of transformational change come as a consequence of these reviews.”

“We’re also in the midst of the unbundling of the A-League and this is a step in the direction of professionalisation, it means the Australian football governance framework is becoming more sophisticated.

“We also need to look at the domestic environment we’re operating in, as a football community and we’re shifting to a model where stakeholders are participating in a meaningful way more so than in the past.”

Having spoken about the need for change, Johnson outlined the specific plan and vision that will build towards a more sustainable future for FFA.

“I’d like to see the FFA become a really unified organisation,” he said.

“The FFA needs to connect the game together, including the stakeholders, government and commercial partners.

“This is a role the FFA can play, and should become a football first organisation and drive the football agenda.

“The third theme is the organisation transforming from something local to one that thinks globally.

“We need to acknowledge this is a global sport with many opportunities and learnings that we can bring back to the Australian game.”

Australian football has seen some complex and pressing issues over recent years – as Johnson commences his duties he is aware of some key topics that need addressing.

“We need to finalise the unbundling of the A-League,” he said.

“We need to find a governance model where both the league and FFA need each other to both grow.

“There’s many good examples that exist out in the global world of football and I’m hoping I can bring this experience back to add value in these discussions.

“We’re obviously bidding for the Women’s World Cup in 2023, this is an ongoing process and part of it with a decision in June.

“This is another immediate priority and we need to look at how we best position ourselves as a leading candidate to win the Women’s World Cup hosting rights.”

Perhaps one of the biggest talking points in Australian football is the desire for a national second division that pits National Premier League sides against top-flight A-League opposition.

Johnson confirmed that it is in his interest to introduce this and are going through a process about how the competition structure would change.

“We don’t have a second-tier competition but these discussions are happening,” he said.

“I don’t see any reason why we cannot have a second tier competition.

“I’d like to look at the FFA Cup and also the NPL and how we grow these products.

“One learning that I’ve had being involved in the Champions League discussions is that every year a great competition like the Champions League is reviewed and discussed with stakeholders at the table trying to make the competition better every year so it continues to grow.

“I’d like to have a look and discuss women’s football – this is a real key priority now all over the world.

“You’ve got FIFA, UEFA and big European clubs all investing in this area, so how do we on this side of the world be a major player in the global discussions of women’s football, I think that’s something we need to look at.

“I’d also like to look at the pathways and how we ensure that we open access to all parts of Australia.

“Are the registration costs too high – can we find mechanisms such as training reward or solidarity mechanisms to ensure that clubs all over the country are incentivised to develop players.

“This is something that I’d really like us to look at and debate in the near future.”

Source: https://www.ffa.com.au/news/watch-james-johnsons-first-media-conference-ffa-ceo

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

Girls United showcases the importance of social sport for women

Social football throughout Australia has acted as the sports backbone, allowing participants of all skill levels to remain involved within the sport.

Regardless of time constraints, skill level or external obligations, social sport allows for the everyday Australia to dedicate one particular time slot of their week to playing some football, usually in a team consistent of their mates.

In north Queensland, Girls United Social League remains a polarizing staple amongst the region, courtesy of its relaxed environment.

The newly founded social league within its second year of operations has continued to retain and attract women of all ages, backgrounds and skill levels into participation.

FQ Officer of Women and Girls Participation, Leah Gubb disclosed upon the FQ website how Girls United continues to pave the way for Queensland increasing their female participants.

“We have new players, returning players, young and older players. It really is for anyone who wants to have a bit of fun, get a bit of fitness in by kicking a ball around with some friends in a social and relaxed space,” she said via press release.

How Girls United has aligned with FQ’s objectives

FQ remained open-ended in relation to the state football objectives, achieving 50/50 gender parity by 2027 is amongst the grandest of the state’s ambitions.

Girls United allows for a unique football experience, over the 10 week intervals across four terms throughout the year, the event is accessible for every participant given it remains open to all ages and skill levels.

The format consists of six players in each team provides another pathway towards achieving the 50/50 parity by 2027 goal.

25% of participant involvement within the outdoor sector has stemmed from Girls United in the northern region of Queensland in 2024.

Why Girls United is so Popular?

Not only has Girls United allowed for an increase of female football participation within Queensland, but also the contribution it has made towards the lifestyle improvement of its participants acts as the primary reason of its popularity.

The ability to exercise, relieve stress and congregate with a relative contingent of people who share the admiration for the world game is fundamentally a gleaming reason behind Girls United and its early success. Given the contribution it has made towards the support and benefit of women’s mental health.

State football governing bodies across the country may opt to use FQ’s current Girls United Social League initiative as the framework of executing a similar football format throughout each respective part of the country.

AFC Technical Committee create new awards to improve standards

The AFC Technical Committee had its second meeting last weekend in Doha, Qatar on the eve of the AFC U23 Asian Cup Qatar 2024 Final between Japan and Uzbekistan.

The official AFC meeting outlines new initiatives on awarding development and solidifying supportive structures.

In conjunction with the overall rise in Women’s football within the AFC’s associations and the wider FIFA football community, The AFC has decided to unveil the new accolade of the AFC Women’s International Player of the Year Award.

The eligibility criteria include that applicants:

  • Must be Asian
  • Playing in the leagues of other Confederations
  • Have recorded significant achievements for country or club

There has also been an adapted criteria for the existing AFC Women’s Player of the Year. Similarly, they must be Asian and a regular national team player, specifically in the AFC competitions, and any of the AFC’s Member Associations (MAs) leagues.

The goalkeeper position has also been given due recognition with the Goalkeeper of the Tournament Award in the revamped AFC Champions League Elite – Final Stage, which commences from the 2024/25 season.

These initiatives are important for the AFC acknowledging crucial technical roles in the footballing scene. These individual awards give the incentive for further support for women and goalkeeping by officially elevating their status in the AFC.

Also, there was the support of structured initiatives within the AFC, including the ‘Positive Play’ campaign – promoting attractive football for players, coaches and supporters endorsing the expectation of positive future playing styles. This is especially prominent in the upcoming AFC youth competition with the winning team receiving a certificate of achievement.

On the topic of youth and growth, the AFC Elite Youth Scheme and AFC grassroots charter have also received updates and growing drive, including importantly newly updated regulations for the AFC Coaching Convention.

However, these decisions need to be further ratified by the AFC Executive Committee. This is a promising statement that the AFC Technical Committee is strategising large investments in increasing standards throughout all levels of the AFC’s MAs.

This meeting should also intrigue keen investors, shareholders and clubs in the AFC Technical Committees objective to encourage development means they are willing to reward. financially and strategically. This supports their aim to achieve higher standards and results on and off the field.

It’s an encouraging sign of evolution in the Asian football schedule and an ambitious push by the AFC.

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