Nick Galatas: National Second Division now a ‘must have’ after 60 NPL clubs meet

Representatives from NPL clubs around Australia attended a Zoom meeting on August 25 to discuss the next steps required to formally establish a national second division (NSD).

At the Association of Australian Football Clubs (AAFC) meeting, club representatives expressed a strong interest in progressing to the next steps of implementation, including forming a NSD Partner Group to provide recommendations to Football Federation Australia (FFA).

“The meeting went extremely well, we are gratified to have had 63 clubs from around Australia attend,” said Nick Galatas, AAFC Chairman.

“I think everyone agrees that NSD is no longer in the realm of ‘nice to have’ but a ‘must have’ as an important means of improving the quality and level of football, but also our credentials and viability as a football nation.”

The NSD Partner Group will consist of at least 25 clubs that have a strong interest in participating in the proposed division. The group will aim to finalise detailed design, modelling, and criteria development which will form the basis of consultation with football’s stakeholder groups and submission to the FFA Board.

“This isn’t about the AAFC going off and forming the division by ourselves, but as we anticipate the division will comprise mainly of member clubs, we are working to assist the FFA by providing insight and recommendations,” Galatas said.

Galatas added that club representatives have been encouraged by recent statements from FFA CEO James Johnson and other board members.

“James has stated since day one that he is a strong supporter of forming a NSD, so we have no concern regarding the FFA’s willingness.”

Although the football community is optimistic and much work has already been done, uncertainty caused by COVID-19 could provide an obstacle moving forward.

“The coronavirus pandemic has been a significant factor in changing the environment of sport generally, but particularly community and professional football,” Galatas said.

“We also now have a Board and senior management group at FFA who more football-savvy are and want to see a NSD succeed. That’s in sharp contrast to the immediate view when we launched our initial discussion paper almost three years ago.”

The clubs heard that a number of matters are still to be finalised with FFA in accordance with its XI Principles document, as well as other stakeholders, including:

  • The merits of a national vs conference-based league
  • How promotion and relegation will be implemented from tiers below a NSD
  • The viability of a NSD for women – a measure supported by AAFC
  • How clubs will be selected into the initial season of the NSD
  • Summer vs winter season (alignment with the A-League), and
  • The appropriate governance and administration of the league.

“A NSD gives all clubs that are interested in it something to aspire to,” Galatas said.

“It will help smaller clubs that are not interested in a NSD taking part in a competition that is more relevant to them at state level. It will help galvanise football fans around the country. It will expand our national footprint. It helps the code put more pressure on all levels of government for funding support. And it gives a potential ‘FFA TV’ – as advocated by The Golden Generation – more quality content that connects all levels of the game.”

​Galatas stated that the final report to the FFA Board will be submitted before November 2020, with a view to implementation of the NSD by 2022.

Global Institute of Sport and former Newcastle United defender Steven Taylor launch ‘study and play’ academy in Dubai

Global Institute of Sport (GIS) has announced an expansion into the Middle East by partnering with leading football performance specialists The Player, co-founded by former Newcastle United defender Steven Taylor.

Aspiring footballers from across the globe can now study a GIS university degree and immerse themselves in an elite football environment with the stunning surroundings of Dubai.

The new ‘Study & Play: Dubai’ initiative provides footballers of all levels with an unprecedented opportunity to train and play in state-of-the-art facilities under the guidance of UEFA A licenced coaches. Alongside their football, students studying a specialist GIS online sports degree will receive local academic support, as well as be part of a global cohort of GIS students studying the same degree course.

Open to students from across the world to move to Dubai, successful applicants will be able to immerse themselves in the Middle East’s emerging football market, gain cutting-edge skills and apply for sports work placements that will shape their future both on and off the field.

The Player Co-Founder and former Newcastle United player Steven Taylor commented:

“This partnership with GIS offers a fantastic opportunity for young athletes. Education is one of our four main focuses at The Player, and we’re able to offer high level performance training alongside this education.”

Fellow The Player Co-Founder and UEFA A licenced coach Sam White added:

“We’re really proud to be introducing this partnership with Global Institute of Sport, and being able to offer young professionals and talented young athletes the opportunity to study a degree and play or work within the world of football in Dubai at the same time.”

GIS President and CEO Sharona Friedman stated:

“GIS was founded with the intention of bringing the best learning and education from the world of sport together so that students are able to graduate with a holistic understanding of best practice from around the globe.

“We are delighted to partner with The Player to provide an additional immersive opportunity for students to study and train in an elite football environment, whilst also bringing our education model to a new region, which will be at the forefront of sports business and performance for the decades to come.”

The GIS degrees available to study as part of this opportunity are:

All programmes are delivered entirely online with the exception of MSc Football Coaching & Analysis, which is largely online plus two residential weeks in either London, Miami or Melbourne.

For more information on Study & Play: Dubai, you can visit the link here: www.GIS.sport/dubai.

FIFA implement measures to protect female players and coaches

FIFA has announced several amendments to the current Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players (RSTP). These changes have been approved by the FIFA Council by May 2024 and have been brought into effect from June 1.

These changes are majorly focused on women and the impact that menstruation and pregnancy have on their careers.

A meeting of key stakeholders and FIFA members resulted in these new regulations advancing the women’s game.

These include:

  • FIFA female players and coaches can now receive a minimum of 14 weeks of paid maternity leave.
  • A minimum of 8 weeks of paid absence for female coaches and players who adopt a child under the age of 2.
  • Also, a minimum of 8 weeks paid absence from the birth of the child if they are not the biological mother (for example same-sex parenthood).
  • Players are entitled to full remuneration if they are absent from training or games due to menstruation or pregnancy health reasons.
  • There is increased support for female players in contacting families during national team contexts to ease pressure on children and mothers.

FIFA Chief Legal & Compliance Officer Emilio García Silvero has commented on the recent changes:

“FIFA is committed to implementing a dynamic regulatory framework that is sound and suitable for the increasing needs of female players and coaches,” he said via media release.

“In order for the game to further flourish, it’s key that we have a holistic approach towards player well-being, including the legal aspects.”

This is a huge advancement in the game’s equality mission as FIFA has recognised and actively planned to ease the physical, psychological and social dimensions of pregnancy and menstruation for women athletes.

These regulations fit Goal 2 in FIFA’s Strategic Objectives for the Global Game: 2023-2027, which describe the organisation’s commitment to exploring and implementing further safeguards for player and coach welfare.

FIFA Chief Football Women’s Officer Dame Sarai Bareman outlined the importance of placing women’s physical health in the legal and mainstream dialogue of the sport.

“When you’re playing sport for a living, and in a professional environment, we have to factor in that the female menstrual cycle can also impact on your ability to deliver within your role,” she added via media release.

“So, it’s important that we protect … those that are affected by their menstrual cycles in a way that it doesn’t put at risk their employment situation with their club and, ultimately, their ability to earn money.”

This announcement shows the players are becoming the major stakeholders in laws and regulations around their welfare.

This is an important strategy for the equality of the game by making sure that women’s sporting careers are not put on hold or impacted by their natural body function or raising a child.

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