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North Sunshine Eagles FC to move into $8.4 million facility

North Sunshine Eagles FC’s entire junior setup will be based out of More Park in 2022, a newly redeveloped $8.4 million facility in Ardeer.

The facility itself, amongst other things, has two full size rectangular pitches, a 21x12m fully enclosed futsal court, a mini pitch (suitable for miniroos), competition standard (200 lux) lighting, four female-friendly changerooms as well as a fully accessible sports pavilion, community social room and expanded carpark.

The club, which has continued to grow its number of registered players over multiple years, has been working with the local Brimbank City Council for a while to move on its juniors from previous homes of Bon Thomas Reserve and Lloyd Reserve.

“Over the years, we’ve been developing and expanding the club to a stage where we couldn’t continue with the levels of kids we were having at these facilities,” President of North Sunshine Eagles FC, Memet Selimi, told Soccerscene.

Selimi explained that the competition for use of the facility was hotly contested, but the club’s strong work in the area, particularly in engaging migrant communities was heavily favoured by the local council.

“We put forward a very solid application for the facility,” he said.

“Ultimately, there were several other big clubs that had applied for the position as well.

“The facility itself was traditionally a softball facility, but it never had a winter tenant – so it was pretty much always just used in the summer time and there was a big space to fill.

“Clearly, council established that there was capacity here, they wanted a winter tenant and they found us to be the most suitable candidate.

“It’s been a bit of a process, but we’re really excited about the idea of being there now for the start of next season.”

The club’s senior setup is set to remain at their home base of 30 years at Larissa Reserve in St Albans, however, Selimi revealed competitive senior matches may be played due to the improved lighting setup at More Park.

“We are looking at engaging in the possibility of playing night matches, once we run it past Football Victoria for approval,” he said.

“We will look at matches at night that will generate numbers and logistically be easy to deal with.

“Ultimately, Larissa will continue to be our home base for the seniors, but More Park will hopefully host a number of senior matches in the future.”

The club, which has a strong history going back over 50 years, are set to benefit in a multitude of ways from moving to the new facility, as is the local community – according to Selimi.

“It’s a great facility, it’s got everything we need,” he said.

“Its’s unique as well, for example, it’s got a really cool caged football setup – which is exactly something you would see in Europe or South America. It will develop a player’s skills at a much more intricate level.

“We want to grow football within the female community and engage as much as possible. We feel it’s an incredible opportunity for the club and we have grown those junior female numbers over the past few years at an exponential rate. With the new facilities we can continue to do that, with the grounds, the increased capacities and the changerooms which cater for females.

“Overall, from a footballing and club perspective, it’s going to allow us to expand our juniors, our women’s football and just create a better environment for everyone.

“From a community standpoint, it will also allow us to connect with the local migrant demographics we are trying to engage and really just try to provide an affordable option for people in the area. It’s unfair for a talent to miss out on possibilities because clubs are charging $2000 a season; we charge much less and work with individuals on things like payment plans, or trying to sponsor them, as well as other combinations as a club to make sure they don’t miss out on these chances.”

The club is extremely grateful for the improved setup at More Park for its juniors and hopes a few facility tweaks at Larissa Reserve will round out the good news.

“It will be incredible if we could seek out some funding for Larissa in regards to an upgraded carpark and lighting, but beyond that we can’t really complain,” Selimi said.

“What we’ve received up to this point is fantastic and it’s really up to us now to take it, run with it and grow our club even further – which would be great.”

Philip Panas is a sports journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy and industry matters, drawing on his knowledge and passion of the game.

Is Australia ready for a two-year World Cup cycle?

Battle lines are being drawn between FIFA and key stakeholders, as it remains to be seen whether Australia will support the push for a two-year World Cup cycle.

FIFA’s minutes from the 71st Congress, where Saudi Arabia put forward the motion to study the viability of a two-year cycle, doesn’t include what member federations voted for in the motion.

Football Australia hasn’t stated publicly whether they were one of the 166 nations who voted for the motion, or whether they support the plans.

Football Australia is instead adopting a wait-and-see approach, to avoid taking a position before any proposal for changes are put forward after the viability study is completed.

Two-time A-League Coach of the Year Ernie Merrick believes the push from FIFA for a two-year World Cup cycle is because of business and money.

“It’s about profit and loss. It’s not about the people in the sport really, and FIFA are always competing with their confederations, of which there are six, and FIFA only have one event where they make substantial money from revenue and that’s every four years,” Merrick said.

“So in effect FIFA loses money for three years, and then the fourth year and makes massive profits mainly from broadcast, ticket sales, and sponsorship from a World Cup.”

The majority of FIFA’s $8.7 billion in revenue between 2015-2018 came from the 2018 Men’s tournament.

The commercial value of another World Cup every four years is incredibly attractive to the governing body as a way to boost its already full coffers.

Australian football will struggle to keep up with other countries if the World Cup is hosted every two years, according to Merrick.

“At the same time a lot of countries, including Asian countries, are spending an enormous amount of money on facilities and preparation setups for national competition. We all know of England’s setup, which is huge at St George’s Park, and here we don’t have a designated specific setup to prepare national teams,” he said.

“There’s a lot of infrastructure that will have to change to give Australia a chance to qualify on a regular basis. We certainly have good players and good coaches and we can compete with anyone regarding players, coaching and strategy but when it comes to the sort of money involved in preparing a national team, friendly games, and the amount of travel involved, Australia is really going to suffer.”

Michael Valkanis – former A-League coach, player and current Greece assistant coach – believes that without aligning with FIFA international dates, it means the A-League will struggle to adapt to a two-year World Cup cycle.

“We saw the effects of the Socceroos going away to play, and it always makes it difficult on A-League coaches and teams to support that.” Valkanis said.

“You can see the effects it can have on finals games, and we’ve been crying out for a long time that we become parallel with the rest of the world with international dates.”

Some of Australia’s biggest competitors in the AFC are showing ambivalence towards the concept.

“It would depend on how it would all be organised,” a Korean FA official told Deutsche Welle.

“If we want to have consistent success then we need to play as many competitive games against South American and European teams as possible. At the moment, we play one or two games every four years if we qualify. It’s not enough.”

While the viability of a two-year World Cup cycle is being studied, it is unclear how determined FIFA is to implement such a radical change to the football calendar against intense opposition from some of its members.

Merrick believes the end result could be FIFA demanding a portion of the confederation’s revenue.

“I think four years is probably a better situation at the moment – maybe three years down the track – but I think confederations will have to come to an arrangement with FIFA, and FIFA will want to take some of their revenue somehow through licensing,” Merrick said.

Those involved in international football already believe that the best model is the one we have currently, something that Valkanis is a strong fan of.

“I am a traditionalist. I think the World Cup is something special that stands out from any other competition in the world,” he said.

“The only other event that comes close is the Olympic Games, and to change the format so we see it every two years instead of four, I don’t think it leaves it the same. It is special the way it is.”

Football Australia CEO James Johnson will have a challenge on his hands navigating what a change in the World Cup’s schedule means for Australian football, as FIFA continues to push for increased revenue from the game.

Football Coaches Australia welcomes Sports Integrity Australia independent investigation

FCA

Football Coaches Australia (FCA) welcomed the broad independent investigative mandate provided by Football Australia to Sport Integrity Australia, encompassing four different areas – harassment, bullying, intimidation and discrimination.

FCA encourages current and former players, administrators, referees and coaches, as well as parents and others involved in football in Australia to come forward through this process to enhance the positive cultural development in our sport.

FCA President Phil Moss stated: “As an organisation we have sought transparency, due process and procedural fairness from day one, so we fully support an independent and wide-ranging investigation into the culture of football in Australia.

“We must, as a game, hold ourselves to the highest of standards.

“The culture we live every day, how we treat each other and ensuring we are setting up the next generation to enjoy our great game is of paramount importance and entirely non-negotiable.”

Newly elected FCA Vice President Sarah West endorsed Phil’s statement:

“Everyone in our sport, from professional players, coaches, referees, administrators and staff through to those involved at the grass roots, has the right to participate in a positive and safe environment and to be treated with respect and fairness.

“There is no place in our game for abuse or harassment of any kind. This unacceptable behaviour harms people and diminishes the game.

“As coaches we have a duty of care to those we are entrusted to work with and must endeavour to always create environments which provide safety, trust and inclusivity so that everyone can enjoy the beautiful game on and off the pitch.”

Media inquiries can be directed to FCA Chief Executive Officer, Glenn Warry, on +61 417 346 312

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