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Officiating in Australian soccer – Where does it sit?

Imagine this. Your team has worked their entire season to reach the Grand Final. They’ve trained the house down and haven’t put a foot wrong anywhere. You deserve to be crowned champions. But on the day, a poor refereeing decision goes against you and as a result, you lose, and all that hard work is for nothing.

All due to a mistake from something out of your control. It would be a real kick in guts, to say the least. It’s something we have seen before in Australian football and as a matter of fact, quite recently.

The Newcastle Jets had a fantastic 2017/18 season and won the right to host the Grand Final. But they lost 1-0 to the Melbourne Victory after a goal from Kosta Barbarouses. But replays showed that the man who assisted Barbarouses, James Donachie, was in fact offside when the ball was played to him.

Now, a case can easily be made that the Jets had their chances during the match and that blaming the loss on a refereeing error is simply deflecting the blame from themselves. But imagine the goal was ruled out. Imagine it stayed 0-0.

The game would’ve been completely different. The Jets would’ve had more confidence for the rest of the match, the Victory wouldn’t have played so defensively and it’s easy to fathom that the Jets may have won the match.

But as much as we can put down to human error, sometimes we must take a step back and ask ourselves, ‘can refereeing be better in this country’?

Now sure, there are training courses in place for aspiring referees. Plus, current referees would also be ensuring that they keep up to standard on a regular basis. But should the standard be higher? As a country, we seem to be content with the, at times, mediocre officiating that we see in our country.

This is not to say that officiating across the globe is ten times better. We seem to be slightly behind the eight-ball, but we can catch up. With a little help from the FFA, we could set benchmarks.

Without knowing what the actual procedures are for current referees, allow me to theorise possible ways in which they can improve upon previous mistakes, as well as better themselves in other officiating departments.

Every week, all the referees, linesmen, fourth officials and VAR officials should be made to do a thorough investigation of all their decisions and non-decisions. They should then have a meeting to discuss where they either went right or wrong and then take advice from others.

The FFA should also have an over-arching body or collective who can give their own thoughts and act as that higher power. They can also keep track of all officials and keep notes on common mistakes they make, areas they are strong in as well as anything else that’s pertinent.

Furthermore, the aspiring officials should be given as much field experience as possible. If they’re kept behind desks, taking notes and watching footage, they’ll never be able to officiate to the standard that the FFA should aspire to keep.

We’ve all seen referees make decisions that seem to be ‘crowd decisions’, or decision influenced by the cries of the crowd. Often, the crowd can see things the officials can’t, but they aren’t always right. In fact, most of the time, they’re just complaining.

For aspiring referees to be the best they can possibly be, they need to get experience on the park as opposed to behind a desk.

The officiating system for Australian soccer is one in need of revamps. But with a little bit of fine tuning and hard work, the FFA and referees of all ages and genders can turn things around.

Caelum Ferrarese is a Senior journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on micro policy within Australasia and industry disruptions at grassroots level.

Granville & District Soccer Football Association announce brand-new X-League

GDSFA

The Granville & District Soccer Football Association (GDSFA) have announced the creation of a new top tier local Men’s Seniors competition, named the X-League.

Kicking off in March of 2022, the GDSFA will be looking to play 22 rounds of football competition each and every Friday evenings across the Granville Association. In addition, there are a number of exciting initiatives that the organisers have thrown into the mix to assure that this will be one of the most appealing local Senior Men’s competition across NSW.

Such incentives include:

  • Livestream Broadcast & Commentary of ‘Match of the Round’
  • Local officials and talent officiating matches
  • 2 Leagues (X-League 1 and X-League 2)
  • 12 Teams in each league
  • Single Team format of up to 20 players per team
  • Promotion and Relegation
  • Prize Money for Premiers and Champions
  • Season Launch Party with special guest
  • End of Season Player & Team Awards Evening
  • Entry into Australia’s oldest knockout competition “The Cottam Cup”
  • NPL Opportunities
  • ‘Match of the Round’ played at the legendary Melita Stadium home of the Parramatta Eagles FC

Granville & District Soccer FA’s General Manager Scott Sadler was looking forward to the new challenge of this concept, that was struck up with a few local and passionate Club administrators wanting to promote, collaborate and deliver new ways of getting more people interested with the world game.

“Back in May, myself and Joe Bacha (Rydalmere FC’s First Grade Coach) met at a café to catch up and chew the fat over the state of play of GDSFA football,” Sadler said.

“As many will know it’s not been an easy ride for them over the last few years, and Joe wanted to bring some of his observations and ideas on how we could improve our Men’s Premier League given we had gone from having 10 teams in the 2020 season and reduced to six in the 2021 season.

“Rydalmere FC have shown great character in rebuilding their club culture and in turn they have seen the fruits of their labour with a fantastic facility being constructed. We started to get some ideas down on paper and the ball was rolling, but Covid lockdown reared its ugly head for round 2 and so we got stuck into battening down the hatches.

“A working group was eventually formed, and the brainstorming sessions commenced every Wednesday, and are still ongoing looking at how we could make the Men’s Premiership Competition more viable and inclusive for all clubs to get involved.

“It has been great to watch the clubs coming together and collaborating on ideas, and between them they have come up with the concept of the X-League.”

Even though the league will be open to Men’s for the 2022 season, the Association has stated that plans are underway to offer this league concept towards the Women and Youth clubs in the football mad area.

“We are definitely looking at expanding in both the Women’s and Youth sectors once we get the Men’s off the ground in 2022 as that has always been our intention,” they said.

“GDSFA is the OG of football within Australia, we may not have done everything right along the way, but we have helped to shape football in some way shape or form.

“With the X-League, we are wanting to offer grassroots football a high standard of football for a very competitive membership fee, giving value for money for each player involved.”

Football Queensland team up with Queensland University of Technology to deliver programs for players and coaches

Football Queensland have announced a partnership with the Queensland University of Technology (QUT), to deliver various coaching courses and social football programs for students.

FQ Women and Girls Participation Officer, Kate Lawson, stated that students completing their studies at QUT can register to undertake a free MiniRoos coaching course on Wednesday, 20 October at QUT Stadium.

“This MiniRoos coaching course is aimed at any QUT students – including international students – who want to begin their coach education journey,” she said.

“There are opportunities opening up for qualified coaches to work with Football Queensland to deliver programs for women and girls, multicultural communities and in schools.

“We know that Queensland universities are home to thousands of football enthusiasts, and we are keen to work with educational institutions across the state to support students and grow the game.

“Beginning next Wednesday, 27 October, students will be able to participate in an eight-week Connecting Through Sport Mixed Multicultural Social Football program.

“I encourage all students to come along and get involved in the MiniRoos coaching course or the social football program.”

Football Queensland’s partnership with the university has come off the back of an informal social football program that has been running at the college since August of last year.

QUT Sport Project Coordinator Michael Jordan said of the partnership: “QUT Sport is delighted to be partnering with Football Queensland to offer a range of social and coaching opportunities for QUT students.

“We are excited about the upcoming coaching course and the Connecting Through Sports program to encourage students to be active, meet new people and learn some new football skills.”

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