fbpx

Robert Cavallucci: “We are no longer going to accept playing second fiddle to other sports”

With the COVID-19 restrictions easing in Queensland, CEO of Football Queensland Robert Cavallucci is travelling the state to conduct club summits as part of the Future of Football 2020+ consultation process.

The strategy aims to provide a voice for people involved within the football industry. Administrators, coaches, players, and other stakeholders are being encouraged to constructively participate in high-level discussions and provide recommendations.

After conducting several summits and scheduling many more, Cavallucci spoke exclusively with Soccerscene to share his insights into the current state of investment, infrastructure, and regional football in Queensland and also to discuss some of the challenges ahead.

“We are conducting an extensive state-wide consultation process and the main purpose of it is to listen. It is about asking football stakeholders their vision of the game and ultimately, we will bring it all together in a report where we will outline opportunities across four key areas of focus. Governance, administration, competition reform, and affordability,” Cavallucci says.

One of the major goals for Football Queensland moving forward will be to amplify the level of investment that the State and Federal governments provide. With participation rates steadily increasing, Cavallucci fears the current level of infrastructure will struggle to meet the growing demand caused by more players and more staff.

“The level of infrastructure and financial support is mixed. Some areas have fantastic facilities and others have suffered from years of underinvestment,” he says.

“Underinvestment has been a systemic problem for Australian football. In the past our sport has failed to work with governments in a meaningful way. In Australia and in Queensland, we have failed to demonstrate our value and our contribution to the community. We have failed to stand up for ourselves and we have failed to make the case as to why our sport deserves significantly better investments from the government.”

“We now can demonstrate with data that we are clearly the biggest game, particularly for girls and women. We have the Women’s World Cup on the way and it is absolutely our responsibility to make the case as to why they need to support our game. There is an imbalance of investment and our infrastructure can simply not accommodate the growth, let alone the nature of the game which is changing and becoming far more inclusive and accessible than ever before.”

Although there is a need for more financial backing, recent years have seen a positive trend in the amount of wages Football Queensland have been able to allocate to staff working within the industry.

Data provided by Cavallucci reveals that for men’s football, the annual budget allotted to coaches and other staff in the state was $178,000 in 2017. This rose to $316,000 in 2018 and to more than $551,000 in 2019.

For the women’s side of the game there has also been a substantial increase of funding to meet the demand driven by participation rates. In 2018 $65,000 was being invested into staff wages, a figure which rose to more than $200,000 in 2019 and is set to increase further.

Football has long overtaken the traditional powers of Rugby League and Rugby Union as the most popular organised sport in Queensland and the successful Women’s World Cup bid will certainly add to the world game’s momentum. Football Queensland is optimistic of seizing the opportunities that are presenting themselves by implementing a level of planning and professionalism that has not previously existed.

“For the first time we have created a state-wide infrastructure plan which clearly outlines our motives for the next four years, how we plan to deliver these motives, and how we will work with the government to achieve them. It’s the first time all these types of things are being done and documented,” Cavallucci says.

“Football is the biggest and greatest sport; we are no longer going to accept playing second fiddle to other sports.”

While Football Queensland is working towards high-level reform, the current summits are also focusing heavily on regional and grass-roots football.

One of the major challenges top level administrators currently face in Queensland is the sheer vastness of the state. Townships and regions are often separated by hours of travel so providing equality in terms of competition, infrastructure and development pathways has always been difficult.

“We’re absolutely keen to develop regional football further, but Queensland is a very big state. The tyranny of distance presents immense challenges to ensure we have the opportunity for all participants to have access to the same services, pathways, facilities, opportunities for coaches, and referees. It presents enormous challenges,” Cavallucci says.

“That being said, regional football in Queensland is in a fantastic place. We have great local competitions and there has been some major growth in participation figures for across both genders.”

Cavallucci adds that a theme of the feedback, particularly from those in northern Queensland has been around restructuring the competitive zones. The state is currently split into 10 geographical zones which although designed with the best intentions may be holding clubs back.

“From our perspective, there needs to be a willingness to be open to new ideas. Many of the clubs want broader regions because they feel constrained within their geographical boundaries. The feedback around that has been really strong as the boundaries may limit what some of the more aspirational clubs are wanting to do,” he says.

The Future of Football 2020+ consultation process is expected to include more than 186,000 participants, 317 clubs, and 12 stakeholder groups. For more information or to register for a focus group, visit footballqueensland.com.au/future-of-football.

Football Queensland renews partnership with Brisbane Paralympic Football Program

FQ partners with BPFP

Football Queensland (FQ) has renewed its partnership with the Brisbane Paralympic Football Program (BPFP), with Meakin Park named as the new home of the Queensland Para-Football team.

The BPFP was established initially as a way to encourage children of all abilities to take the opportunity to be a part of a club, a team and to train with experienced coaches. The program is conducted by volunteers who have professional experiences working with people with disabilities and it has now grown to see numerous participants taking part week in, week out.

The BPFP has a number of players in the current state and national Paralympic football teams, with more national representatives than most professional clubs across the globe. However, the program is not just about advanced athletes, it encourages fun and family participation in an effort to get young people with a disability to stay active and healthy and to perform to the best of their ability.

FQ CEO Robert Cavallucci acknowledged the significance of the partnership for both FQ and BPFP.

“This partnership achieves a key strategic objective to provide opportunities for Queenslanders to participate in football, regardless of age, ability or life stage,” he said.

“The BPFP will work with FQ to promote the development pathway of Para-Football and all abilities football within the Queensland football community.

“In addition, FQ will support a Queensland team to participate in the 2021 National Para-Football Championships in Sydney later this year. This will be the first time in five years that a Queensland team has competed at Nationals.

“FQ is committed to providing the same level of administrative and operational support to the Queensland Para-Football Team as it does to all other state youth teams each year.”

Founded in 2006 by director Jay Larkin, the Brisbane Paralympic Football Program has been Football Queensland’s endorsed Inclusive Football Provider for over a decade.

“We have had a partnership with FQ for many years, and I have no doubt that this renewed commitment will take the BPFP to the next level,” Larkin said.

“We are delighted that FQ will help us promote all abilities football through their media and marketing team as well as providing coaching and financial support to send our team to Nationals.

“It is an exciting time to be involved in all abilities football and after years of hard work in Brisbane we are determined to grow the game in partnership with FQ to new markets around the state.

“Football is Queensland’s game of choice, for all, for life, and we can’t wait to get started at FQ headquarters at Meakin Park.”

Those interested in seeking further information about Queensland’s Para-Football Program or All Abilities Football can contact FQ at allabilities@footballqueensland.com.au.

Funding for female changerooms a top priority for NSW Government

The NSW Government has made female changerooms a top priority for funding in Round Four of its Stronger Country Communities Fund.

The NSW Government has made female changerooms a top priority for funding when $100 million is spread across regional NSW in Round Four of its Stronger Country Communities Fund.

Football has applauded the move, allowing female sporting teams in regional NSW to benefit from new and improved facilities, with 50% of the fund devoted towards female changeroom facilities and programs.

“We are delighted the NSW Government has chosen to invest in female sporting programs and facilities at such a vital time for football. The hosting of the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023™ has sparked an even greater surge of demand for football facilities – many of which are already bursting at the seams. Investment in our facilities is vital to keep up with demand,” Football NSW CEO Stuart Hodge said.

Northern NSW Football CEO David Eland says the announcement aligns perfectly with football’s needs, following the release of a state-wide Infrastructure Strategy in March 2020. This highlighted the requirement for significant investment in facilities, especially for female football over the next decade, as there’s a projected increase in female participation.

“As the state’s largest sport, football is experiencing unprecedented increase in female football. The number of women and girls playing football has risen by 11% in the past year alone,” he said.

Football Australia CEO James Johnson highlights Football Australia’s intention of having 50/50 female participation by 2027, helped massively by the hosting of the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2023 and it’s Legacy ‘23 Plan.

“Our Legacy ’23 Plan is a long-term project extending far beyond the final match of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023TM and we are determined to elevate the women’s game to even greater heights – ultimately for Australia to become the centre of women’s football in the Asia-Pacific region,” he said.

“To do this we have identified several time critical initiatives to kick-start Legacy ‘23 which are aligned to our XI Principles and focus on facilities and infrastructure, high performance, participation, and international engagement.

“Building and upgrading community facilities and infrastructure forms part of a key pillar of the Legacy ’23 plan, to help address the existing facilities gap we are experiencing around Australia, and also plan for the influx of 400,000 women and girls we are expecting to be playing the sport of football by 2027.

“Currently of our 2,500 football clubs in Australia, only one in five of these facilities are female friendly.

“Football is committed to working with Clubs, Local Councils and stakeholders to secure funding for the sport. It is integral for football that we ensure existing venues can be used at full capacity, with inclusive facilities, through proper planning for future growth via partnerships with government at all levels and industry partners.”

Facts on Female Football Facilities across New South Wales:

  • 24% of venues DO NOT have change facilities (248 venue)
  • 76% of venues have change room facilities (766 venues). Of these venues:
    • 76% are NOT female friendly
    • 60% have open showers and are not suitable for males or females in the 21st century
    • 48% of change rooms are in either moderate or poor condition
  • 62% of venues in NSW do NOT have a referee’s room
  • Only 36% of venues have a referee’s room
    • 73% of referee rooms are NOT female friendly
    • 44% of referee rooms are in moderate or poor condition
    • 51% of showers in referee rooms are either unlockable or open

Round 4 applications for the Stronger Country Communities Fund opened on May 1, 2021 and you can find it here.

© 2020 Soccerscene Industry News. All Rights reserved. Reproduction is prohibited.

Most Popular Topics

Editor Picks