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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

Liam Watson is a Senior Journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on international football policy, industry matters and industry 4.0

Football Coaches Australia presents ‘The Football Coaching Life Podcast’ S3 Ep 2 with Gary Cole interviewing Steve Corica

Corica FCA

Steve Corica is Head Coach of A-League Men at Sydney FC, where he narrowly missed out on three A-League Championships in a row, losing to Melbourne City in the Grand Final last season. What a remarkable start to his first senior head coaching role!

He played his junior football in Innisfail in North Queensland, before heading to the Australian Institute of Sport and playing just under 500 professional games in Australia, England and Japan.

Steve’s preparation for coaching began while he was playing, and he started to gain his coaching licences before taking on an assistant role with the Sydney FC Youth Team.

He served a seven-year apprenticeship at Sydney with the Youth Team and then as an assistant to Vitezslav Lavicka, Frank Farina and Graham Arnold before taking on the Head Coach role in 2018. He learned from each of these coaches and also learned, like most ‘he didn’t know, what he didn’t know’ when taking on the Head Coaching Role.

Steve believes that team and club culture are key to success. He understands that while he is the driver of the culture, that buy-in from all of the players is integral to behaviours being demanded from the playing group of one another.

Steve’s ‘one piece of wisdom’ was ‘to be yourself’. Know how you want to play, the style of football you want to play. Be strong when you do get setbacks, but believe in what you’re doing, stay strong and keep believing in the style of football you want to play.

Please join me in sharing Steve Corica’s Football Coaching Life.

Zena Sport: Helping female goalkeepers stay protected

Donna Johnson started Zena Sport with the aim of protecting women athletes in high-impact sports. With the help of her husband, former AFL footballer and Western Bulldogs captain Brad Johnson, Zena Sport is changing the way female athletes look at injury prevention.

Their Female Impact protection garment, known as the Zena Z1 performance vest, offers support and impact protection, while also giving compression for enhanced post-game recovery.

The impact vest isn’t visible under a jersey or shirt while being lightweight and breathable without restricting a player’s movement, weighing only 160 grams.

Donna came up with the idea after after she watched a local women’s AFL game, with plans to continue expanding the product line after their initial success.

“My wife Donna was at a local game with her best friend who had a couple of daughters playing, and one of them came off that game with a big knock to the breast,” Brad said.

“We thought is there anything to help these girls during that development phase of life? That’s how the conversation started with us, and we continued to explore it.”

After discovering there wasn’t a large body of research in the area of injuries specific to women’s athletes, Zena Sport conducted their own.

“We worked with Deakin University in that process, and there were a lot of things to tick off,” Brad Johnson said.

“We went through their Centre of Sports Research, and the vest has been validated to show it absorbs a high level of contact.”

The AFLW embraced the impact vests, and now Zena Sport is expanding into other sports.

“The last 18 months we’ve been going flat out, AFLW was our first port of call but Melissa Barbieri jumped onboard quickly and she loves wearing it in goal,” Donna said.

“Soccer is one sport that the vest has been well received, and the feedback has been great so we want to push it even further and harder through the soccer world.”

Melissa Barbieri, a former Matilda’s goalkeeper, had an early opportunity to test the vest out before launch.

“Once I tried it I felt that little more protected in collisions, and as a goalkeeper hitting the ground and the ball hitting your chest,” Barbieri said.

“I have some breast cancer in the family, so I wanted to protect myself as much as possible, so it was a welcome revelation.”

Barbieri, who played 86 times for Australia, values the product as perfect for women goalkeepers who need extra safety during games.

“First and foremost I feel it gives you compression, which is always good for recovery, but it also gives you an extra layer of protection from any hits you might have via the ground, opposition coming in or friendly fire,” she said.

“Certainly when you are in a one-on-one predicament in a game, coming out and spreading yourself with as much width as possible and not protecting yourself in the chest area, it’s perfect for feeling that little bit of extra protection.”

Brad Johnson is the Western Bulldogs’ all-time appearance holder in the AFL, and his own experiences in professional sports influenced the design of the vest.

“It was always wait until you are injured, and then protect it to return to play. In that regard, I wore a rib-guard in the final few years of playing, under my jumper without anyone knowing, and away I went,” he said.

“So from that I was keen to add that element to it which has become a really popular part of the vest.”

For Barbieri, the impact vest not only offers her safety and confidence on the field, but she also believes in the company behind the product.

“Supporting someone who is so passionate about female athletes is really great to see, and it’s a homegrown family company, so I want to get behind them as much as much as possible,” she said.

Zena Sport is providing women and girls the opportunity to play contact sport to their full potential while raising awareness about the need to protect themselves from injury.

You can visit the Zena Sport website for more information, or view the ZENA Z1 Impact Protection Vest.

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