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 Queensland to celebrate Female Football Week in March

Football Queensland have announced their 2021 Female Football Week will be held from March 1 to March 8.

The week-long initiative will conclude on International Women’s Day.

“Football Queensland is delighted to announce this year’s Female Football Week, which will recognise the contributions of women and girls in our game while promoting female participation across all areas of football,” FQ President Ben Richardson said.

“Women and girls are the future of our game, and Football Queensland is committed to strengthening pathways, developing infrastructure and delivering high-quality participation experiences to create more opportunities for women and girls to join our game as outlined in our Strategic Plan.

“This is a focus now more than ever as we enter the centenary season of women’s football here in Queensland, look ahead to the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 to be held on home soil, and prepare to launch our 2021-2023 Women and Girls Strategy.”

“Football Queensland is proud of the progress we are making to grow the women’s game across the state, and we’re excited to celebrate this year’s Female Football Week alongside the opening round of the NPL Junior Girls competition and the ground-breaking new Kappa Women’s Super Cup,” FQ CEO Robert Cavallucci said.

“It’s been fantastic to see such a strong interest in the inaugural state-wide competition especially from our regional clubs, with 55 teams from community level to the NPL Queensland competing from across nine regions.

“Unlocking new opportunities for female players across Queensland, the Kappa Women’s Super Cup will kick off on the final weekend of Female Football Week and showcase some of the state’s best female players.

“Football Queensland’s Female Football Week celebrations will then continue into the following week, with a number of programs and initiatives planned as we look towards the opening round of our NPL Women’s competition on March 12.

“We encourage our zones and clubs across the state to join us in celebrating the contributions of women and girls in our game as part of Female Football Week by running their own initiatives and events which we look forward to supporting.”

Clubs in Queensland can register their Female Football Week initiatives and view event ideas here.

FIFA appoints Chief Operating Officers for Women’s World Cup 2023

FIFA has appointed two Chief Operating Officers (COOs) for the upcoming FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 in Australia and New Zealand.

FIFA has appointed two Chief Operating Officers (COOs) for the upcoming FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023.

Jane Fernandez and Jane Patterson have been named as COOs for Australia and New Zealand respectively, after their initial appointments last year to lead the FIFA Women’s World Cup office for their host countries.

Fernandez led Football Australia’s successful bid to host the tournament and subsequently led to her appointment as Head of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 Office (Australia). She’s was also the Head of Sport for the Australian Olympic Committee and Tournament Director of the AFC Asian Cup 2015.

Patterson worked on sports events across Aotearoa New Zealand, Australia and the UK, featuring a a wide range of world championships in netball, BMX, para-swimming and taekwondo and major events including the Ironman Triathlon and the New Zealand Open golf tournament.

She was recognised for her achievements in service to sport with a New Zealand Order of Merit in 2016. She also worked for NZ Football as Project Director for the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023.

Jane Patterson (right) receiving the New Zealand Order of Merit from Lt Gen The Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae, GNZM, QSO (left) during the Investiture Ceremony at Government House Auckland in 2016. (Credit: The Office of the Governor-General)

FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura:

“Today’s announcement adds to the excitement around the ninth edition of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023.

“We are delighted to welcome Jane Patterson and Jane Fernandez on board as Chief Operating Officers for the competition.

Their skill, experience in leading multi-talented teams and passion for football will be key to ensuring the delivery of the FIFA Women’s World Cup at the highest level.”

Football Australia Chief Executive Officer James Johnson:

“We are delighted that Jane Fernandez has been appointed to this prestigious and important position, and that her vast knowledge and skillset will continue to be utilised by FIFA for the biggest sporting event to be held on Australian soil since Sydney 2000.”

CEO of New Zealand Football, Andrew Pragnell:

“New Zealand Football are thrilled to see Jane Patterson confirmed as Chief Operating Officer (New Zealand) for the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023.

“Jane has done a stellar job to date as Project Director for the Initial Operating Phase and we are delighted to see her continue to bring her wealth of knowledge and experience to the tournament.”

The newly-appointed COOs will oversee the operational aspects for the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 in Australia and New Zealand. It’s the first time this tournament will be co-hosted in FIFA’s history, that will feature 32 teams – an increase from 24 in France 2019.

Applications open for Sport Australia’s Women Leaders in Sport Grants

Sport Australia is now accepting applications for the 2021 Women Leaders in Sport (WLIS) Development Grants and Leadership Workshops.

Sport Australia is now accepting applications for the 2021 Women Leaders in Sport (WLIS) Development Grants and Leadership Workshops.

The WLIS Development Grants and Leadership Workshops form part of the broader WLIS program, featuring activities that help women in the sports industry obtain new skills, knowledge and qualifications to progress their leadership pathway in the sector.

The programs are run by Sport Australia, partnered with the Office for Women. The highly regarded WLIS workshops mark its 20th year, where over 25,000 women in the sports industry have achieved leadership development since 2002.

Women working in the sports industry can apply for individual grants up to $10,000 to support their professional development and to attend online leadership workshops. Organisations are able to apply for leadership development grants up to $20,000 that covers workshops, seminars and conferences for staff.

“We know that having a greater balance of men and women in executive leadership positions makes sporting organisations more dynamic and well-rounded in the way they conduct their businesses,” Sport Australia Acting CEO Rob Dalton said.

“Having that diversity at a leadership level has a direct impact on engagement in sport and ultimately, positively impacts the bottom line for sports.

“It is vitally important to ensure that our next generation of female sports leaders are provided with genuine development opportunities, which is what this program delivers and why it has been extended and expanded for a four-year cycle.

“Sport Australia is so pleased the Australian Government has acknowledged the importance of the WLIS program with an increased funding commitment of $3.4 million over the next four financial years, ensuring the program can expand and deliver even further development opportunities for women to reach their leadership potential in our industry.”

Individuals and organisations have until Wednesday, March 17 2021 at 5pm to apply for the WLIS Development Grants and Workshops.

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