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Nick Galatas: “XI Principles a step in the right direction to unify the game”

The Australian Association of Football Clubs (AAFC) has released a response to Football Federation Australia’s (FFA) XI Principles, supporting the call for a more inclusive governance strategy moving forward.

Speaking exclusively to Soccerscene, AAFC Chairman Nick Galatas believes the FFA’s new ‘living document’ is a step in the right direction to building a “vertical, democratic model” which will ultimately help to unify the game.

The XI Principles were publicly revealed on 2 July 2020 in release titled ‘XI Principles for the future of Australian football’. The discussion paper is intended to outline 11 key strategies to drive the growth of Australian football.

“The AAFC welcomes the FFA’s XI Principles. From our perspective it demonstrates a recognition that there are currently issues within football that need to be addressed, so we believe it is fantastic that they are inviting discussion and comment,” Galatas says.

“To the FFA’s credit, they have stated that it is a ‘living document’. This means they have opened the bidding to everyone involved in the game by encouraging them to participate and contribute.”

The AAFC represents National Premier League clubs from across Australia’s state federations and the ACT. The association advocates for the clubs and their more than 40,000 players around the country.

In its official response to the XI Principles discussion paper, the AAFC called on the need for a linked football hierarchy that will act as a fluid pyramid. This, according to Galatas would help to create a competitive system where ambition is rewarded, and clubs can earn progression based on merit.

“Unifying the game sends the message that people, and clubs are not categorised into positions. They should not be labelled and should not be given a function. Clubs should aspire to be the best that they can be and what the club’s members want them to be,” Galatas says.

The FFA’s new message under CEO James Johnson appears to be one of collaboration, an approach which differs to the previous strategy which inadvertently created a divide between the A-League and state-level clubs.

“We all want to see our top tier thrive. Unleashing the potential of our clubs, providing a linked structure, offers the best chance for our struggling A-League to be re-energised and become the top-tier we all want it to be, at the top of a linked, inclusive, fluid football pyramid,” Galatas said.

The idea of a linked system would likely lead to a stronger collective outcome from Australia’s football clubs, which would lay the foundations for a stronger national team.

One of the goals of the AAFC’s desire for a linked system would be the implementation of a national second division. He believes the creation of a competitive second division would reinvigorate the A-League and strengthen all levels of the game.

“Ultimately creating a linked system could lead to promotion and relegation. I say ultimately because we need to create that over time, but we want to see a real second tier that the strongest and most aspirational clubs can form,” he says.

“The remainder of NPL clubs can then form a tier below that. This would alleviate them from the burden currently imposed on them and make football more accessible for kids to participate at a junior level.”

In terms of governance, the seventh principle proposed by the FFA is to ‘Transition towards a modern, fit-for-purpose governance framework for football in Australia in line with global standards and best-practice sports governance in Australia.’

Although this model has not been clearly defined yet, Galatas says the ideal solution would be to implement a “vertical integrated democratic model” which clubs have direct representations in their federations.

“Clubs are members-based. They are run by the people who elect a committee to represent them. Since 2006 clubs are not members of the federation so we are aiming to achieve the implementation of a vertically integrated democratic model where there is linkage and representation from top to bottom,” Galatas says

This fits one of the AAFC’s key visions, to secure voting rights on FFA Congress. The body is already a congress member and considers it important to create a system that is not exclusive and involves those at the grassroots rather than isolates them.

The release of the XI Principles comes a little over a year since the FFA scrapped the controversial National Club Identity Policy (NCIP), a policy which Galatas believes alienated people, clubs and the link strong link between tradition, multiculturalism, and football.

“The NCIP was a slap in the face to the history of the game. Australia stands for inclusiveness and welcoming migrant culture and legacy. It smacked of a totalitarian approach. Abolishing the NCIP was the first step towards demonstrating inclusiveness,” Galatas says.

View a full list of the FFA’s XI Principles here.

Football Coaches Australia presents ‘The Football Coaching Life Podcast’ S2 Ep 8 with Gary Cole interviewing Jeff Hopkins

Jeff Hopkins

Jeff Hopkins is currently the W-League Championship winning Head Coach of Melbourne Victory.

Jeff was born in Wales and played over 400 games for both club and country. He started in Fulham’s Academy before playing over 200 games in the first team before heading to Crystal Palace and Reading. Jeff also played for Wales at U21 and Senior level.

His coaching career began by working with young players in the UK, where he started his coaching licences before heading to Gippsland Falcons as a player and then for a year as Head Coach.

As a former professional player Jeff, like so many of us, thought he had a good grasp of football until he began his coaching journey and learned he didn’t know, what he didn’t know!

With over 20 years’ experience as coach at youth, assistant and head coach level Jeff is very aware of the changes he has made to his coaching over the journey. He has a number of premierships and championships to his name with Queensland and Brisbane Roar Women and both a Premiership and Championship with Melbourne Victory, which he is very proud of, but he also finds a great deal of satisfaction in seeing his players and teams grow and develop.

Jeff was honest and open discussing his journey and believes that finding a mentor in the beginning would have helped him make fewer mistakes on his journey. In fact, in answering the ‘one piece of wisdom’ question he had two pieces for developing coaches! Firstly, find a mentor early on in your coaching career and secondly keep growing and learning as a coach and create a learning environment for your players.

Please join Gary Cole in sharing Jeff Hopkins’ Football Coaching Life.

Rachel Williams appointed to Football Tasmania Board

Football Tasmania have welcomed long-time Tasmanian football contributor Rachel Williams to their Board.

Joining with a background in sports media, Williams cited the possibility of hosting training camps for the 2023 Women’s World Cup and a potential increase in A-League and W-League content as exciting opportunities for the state heading into the future.

Football Tasmania President Bob Gordon believes Williams’ media expertise and strong ties with the northern Tasmanian community would help support Tasmania’s most popular team sport as it continues to grow.

“As the mother and chief supporter of three football-mad boys, Rachel has a great understanding of the World Game in Tasmania and what our sport means to so many people across the state,” Gordon said.

“We’re delighted to have Rachel join the Tasmanian football family in an official capacity and lend her expertise to seeing football realise its full potential with improved facilities and opportunities for young players as the sport continues to grow.”

FT

Williams was excited to be underway in her role and to represent the passionate and talented women working in and around football.

“As a former sports journalist I have watched with keen interest the significant growth, development and recognition of the sport in Tasmania, particularly for women, and I am really excited to help continue that progress,” she said.

“I believe it is vital for there to be a strong and secure pathway for our young men and women to play at the highest level and it is exciting to see Tasmania forge a future involvement with the A-League and W-League.

“I am passionate about ensuring every child has the opportunity to be involved and be given opportunities to succeed.”

Gordon also paid tribute to outgoing Board member Fiona Reynolds.

“On behalf of the Tasmanian football community I’d like to thank Fiona for her contribution and dedication to our sport,” he said.

“Fiona joined our team at a very challenging time for all community sports when COVID first reached our shores and was instrumental in helping us get the game up and running safely so Tasmanians could again enjoy playing football.”

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