Peter Filopoulos: There are opportunities in times of crisis

Speaking with Soccerscene, Football Victoria CEO Peter Filopoulos claims the current period presents the game with challenges but also opportunities for the future.

Filopoulos, a highly experienced administrator across a variety of sports, believes nothing in his career compares to the impact the COVID-19 pandemic is currently having.

“This is the biggest disruption that’s faced sport, not just football,” he said.

“In my time of 30 years in sports administration, I’ve never seen anything like it before.

“But I also see this crisis as an opportunity for football to position itself at the backend of this.

“To be able to build a platform for us to change the way we do business and the way we do things, that’s what I’m looking forward to.”

In unprecedented times, Filopoulos said the organisation, alongside collaborative efforts with the FFA, are filling the void for football participants through alternative means.

Initiatives which focus on the mental and physical wellbeing of the footballing community have been implemented in recent weeks.

“We’ve been driving some digital content, which is fantastic,” he said.

“We’ve introduced the #LiveLoveFootball at home campaign.This is a series of skills, videos, activities, quizzes, podcasts, throwbacks, classic moments and more.

“We’ve also got Skills Hub through FFA, that helps the grassroots football community stay active and connected through this time.

“FFA recently launched this online skills hub developed in association with all of us federations, with the #PlayAtHomeChallenge.”

With all football activity suspended until May 31 at the very least, Football Victoria has been in constant contact with local councils, in regards to supporting grassroots football clubs in the state.

According to Filopoulos, around ten councils have already provided rent relief for clubs during this period, with hopefully more to come.

“We are working with the rest of them,” he said.

“We’ve written to them and we’re speaking to them to help support our football clubs in the time of need.

“Not only on the rent relief, but also to try and access facilities post the winter season, for when we resume football activity and (most likely) encroach on the spring season.”

The state governing body has been in consistent dialogue with all levels of government on a number of fronts, including financial assistance.

The organisation recently sent all of its member federation clubs a government assistance overview for the current COVID-19 pandemic.

The Football Victoria CEO explained he is also working with other sports in a bid to garner support from government.

“We’ve all got the common challenge and the common problems,” he said.

“So, we are working as a conglomerate to lobby government.

“Government’s going to be looking towards us for social economic recovery in the backend, we need to be in a financial position to have the capability to do it, so we need the support.”

With recent suggestions a possible rebuild of the game could be close, Filopoulos believes a national second division and connected football pyramid will be a reality in the near future.

“That’s something Football Victoria are very big advocates of. (We are) working with FFA closely to try and deliver that sooner, rather than later.

“I think we’ve got a very supportive CEO and Chair at FFA, it’s a matter of now putting those plans in motion.

“I’d like to think that we can accelerate that strategy at some point, once we are out of this crisis.”

A key to that strategy in a prospective national second division is the involvement of broadcast partners, with Football Victoria having already begun talks about their own product to streaming services such as Optus Sport and Kayo Sports.

“(Discussions) are still progressing, but given that we’ve got no content really to upload or share at the moment it’s gone a little bit on the backburner, hopefully we can resume these discussions at some point.”

For now, however, planning continues behind the scenes at Football Victoria for when football does return.

“In terms of when we get back, we are looking at a number of scenarios at the moment,” Filopoulos said.

“Depending on when we can start, we believe we will be able to complete certain competitions.”

One thing’s for sure, football will bounce back.

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.

$1.5 million in fee relief provided to Football NSW Associations and Clubs

Football NSW

To help consolidate losses related to the premature cancellation of the 2021 Winter Football season due to COVID-19, Football NSW has announced $1.5 million in fee relief for its Associations and Clubs.

The Football NSW Board identified the need to provide support to its Associations and Clubs to ensure their ongoing solvency and assist them through these challenging times.

And in spite of the difficult circumstances for all stakeholders involved in the game, Football NSW CEO Stuart Hodge credited the strength of football in coming through previous Covid-enforced lockdowns.

“As we have stated previously, our player numbers can only continue to grow, and football can only remain the most popular participant sport in NSW, if there is sustained financial viability at each tier of the game,” Hodge said.

“The sustainability of a healthy Association and Club framework is fundamental to our continued development and maintaining our capacity to progress and achieve our lofty ambitions.

“With this in mind, and on the recommendation of management, the Board resolved to provide a discount on the Football NSW Capitation Fee for the 2021 Winter season.

Hodge acknowledged the hardworking efforts of each of the Associations and Clubs who have been resilient in the face of the COVID-affected season.

“I want to acknowledge the dedication of our volunteers, administrators, players, referees and coaches that enabled us to still deliver part of a football season,” he said.

“Once again, the Football NSW community has come together to support each other and keep our participants and their families safe, something I feel that’s been truly inspiring.

“Football is a vital part of the lives of our players and other participants, but also vital to our communities.

“Thank you all for your work to keep things going through this period of disruption.”

Football in NSW played a leading role in ensuring the community, and sport as a whole, did their bit in fast tracking a return to sport via the recent NSW Health initiative, ‘Super Sport Sunday’.

“Our collective commitment to a safer community was evident in our recent initiative to offer our facilities as vaccination hubs to the NSW Government,” Hodge said.

“What started as an offer of facilities quickly evolved into a request from NSW Health for football to mobilise its community in certain regions where vaccination rates were desperately needed to be increased.

“Answering the call, we led a campaign for football participants in those regions to get vaccinated and engaged other sports to join as we created a ‘Super Sport Sunday’ for vaccinations at Sydney Olympic Park Authority (SOPA).

“We have since been briefed that the campaign helped set a new single day record of vaccinations at SOPA, with many people wearing the jerseys of their favourite football clubs.

“This is another good example of how, as a code and a football family, we are leaders in our communities and, when we work together, we can achieve great things.”

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.

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