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Curbing facilities shortage by the power of virtual reality

It may still seem like a speculative idea that doesn’t appeal to everyone, but virtual reality (VR) could be a revolutionary way of seeing and feeling soccer and any other sport.

The potential is enormous for the use of VR – using this technology would mean watching a match for instance can become a much more immersive experience.

When fully maximised, sporting clubs can take advantage of VR technology and offer fans new experiences they have never seen before. Here are some of the positive uses of VR which revolve around simulation.

Seeing a game from a player’s point of view: If there’s a top performer in a league and their performance needs analysing, vision could be from their own point of view. Similar to GPS technology, it offers a visual demonstration and greater depth into a player’s work rate and positioning – perfect for young players coming through in need of some guidance.

Access to a sold-out game: There’s nothing worse than trying desperately to get tickets to a big occasion, only to miss out on a spot by a matter of seconds. It’s an amazing feeling going to a packed-out stadium for a final or derby clash overseas, but unfortunately not everyone can attend and instead watch from a TV. However, for the thousands that still want an equal experience of actually being there, VR can offer just that by creating the atmosphere and a 360 degree view of a ground.

Training for different scenarios: Match practice is important for testing out game plans, but requires all players to be fit at once to see how they all gel. VR could help assess what works and what doesn’t, with players potentially seeing themselves and their temmates in action from different angles. It extends further to medical staff as well, who in their training can see different situations in which they are called upon. VR can replicate different settings so that medicos are fully prepared.

The main purpose of VR is to give players, coaches, staff and fans a new perspective that they wouldn’t have seen before. It makes it easier for a sporting team to learn and ensures fans have a fair go with a similar experience to someone at a big game.

Western United to play Australia Day fixture at Whitten Oval

On Friday, newly formed A-League club Western United announced that they would host their match against Adelaide United at the Whitten Oval.

The match, set to take place on Australia Day (January 26) will mark the third AFL ground that Mark Rudan’s side has used this season as a home venue.

Previously to this, Mars Stadium in Ballarat and GMBHA Stadium in Geelong have been used.

On paper, this is a perfect move for the expansion club. Their match against the Reds will mark their first official match to take place in western Melbourne, opposed to greater western Victoria.

Their stadium in Tarneit is on course for a 2021 completion, so obviously until then, they need to make do with what’s available.

But now, they finally have a chance to play in front of the people who were their targeted demographic from day one.

The Whitten Oval is a great location in itself, having played host to large scale AFLW games and consistent seasons of the VFL. So the ground will be up to scratch for 90 minutes of A-League football.

Currently, the AFL, AFLW and VFL are in their off-seasons, so there is no risk of any clash between AFL side the Western Bulldogs and Western United.

There was only a minor risk of clash between the match and any pre-season training for the Bulldogs. But thankfully, the 2016 AFL premiers are on a training camp up north on the Sunshine Coast at the time of Australia Day.

In an article from The Age, United CEO Chris Pehlivanis and Western Bulldogs CEO Ameet Bains echoed each other’s thoughts on the prospect of A-League football at Whitten.

“We will continue to be a club for all who call the west home as we take this journey together,” Pehlivanis said.

“Relocating our round 16 fixture to Whitten Oval gives the club’s growing fanbase an opportunity to taste the A-League at another family friendly, community venue in the west.”

“Hosting A-League football at Whitten Oval is a fantastic opportunity to showcase the broad capability of our venue and to connect with a new audience,” said Bains.

“We have been able to create a unique, family-friendly atmosphere for sporting events we have hosted at Whitten Oval, particularly in the summer months at our AFLW matches.”

United’s start to the season has been a mixed bag, both on and off the field.

Many A-League fans would agree in us saying that it’s a nice breath of fresh air to have a new side, boasting new names as well as some familiar faces in the competition.

Their on field performance has been decent. They currently sit in fifth on the A-League table and despite some disappointing results as of late, they remain firmly in contention for a finals berth in their inaugural season.

That in itself is a remarkable achievement, should Alessandro Diamanti and co. get it done.

But off the field, there has been a struggle for numbers, particularly at home games.

They currently hold the second-lowest attendance record in the competition this season, averaging a measly 6,225 per game. They also hold the record for lowest attendance at a single game this season.

In their round nine encounter against Sydney FC, a mere 4,187 fans clicked through the turnstiles in Geelong as the reigning champions of the A-League ran out 2-0 winners.

Understandably, as a new side it’s tough to acquire fans from the get-go and to establish genuine connections with fans will take time. Poor on-field results would go a long way to diminishing any hopes of that.

But with time and the opening of their new stadium in the near future, it’s a simple case of staying the course for Pehlivanis and co.

This match on Australia Day in the heart of Melbourne’s inner-western suburbs could do a world of good for Western. With tickets reportedly going for as little as $6, it could be the beginning of a wonderful new relationship between them and the Western Bulldogs.

Fingers crossed for them that regardless of the on-field result, they have a good showing from their fans and any neutrals who watch them as well.

Italian Serie A chooses new president

Italy’s top flight soccer league Serie A has named Paolo Dal Pino as their new president.

Dal Pino, who was Chief Executive of Telit Communications at the time he was elected, secured his new position in a comprehensive voting count.

According to the Associated Press, Dal Pino got 12 votes from the 20-team competition, one more than the 11 required to secure the role.

Despite being forced to resign from the president role in November, Gaetano Miccichè attracted seven votes, while a solitary ballet was left blank.

Miccichè did provide good competition, after an investigation about irregularities of how he was elected in 2018.

Since Miccichè’s resignation, Serie A has had Mario Cicala and Giancarlo Abete come in as emergency leaders.

The appointment of Dal Pino is hoped to steady the ship following some turbulent times for Serie A, as the league has made headlines for the wrong reasons.

Multiple incidents of racism have serviced this season which players point out and they had been widely condemned for their latest campaign to attempt to rectify the problems.

Serie A has also come under fire for its decision to take a second consecutive edition of its Super Cup competition to Saudi Arabia, with Qatari broadcaster BeIN Sports warning that the league is risking UK£390 million (US$500 million) worth of overseas rights contracts with the company by doing so.

In addition, Serie A are needing to come up with a future strategy and final decision for their broadcast rights, continuing to stall over a decision on Spanish agency Mediapro’s idea to launch a dedicated league channel.

SA Premier Steven Marshall to offer football clubs bushfire relief grant

Football clubs in South Australia that have been affected by the recent bushfires will be able to apply for a special grant.

The State Government led by Premier Steven Marshall, will provide recovery assistance to South Australian communities that have been ravaged by the catastrophic bushfires.

Grants of up to $10,000 will be available for sporting clubs in need, to help the rebuilding process.

These payments will be available immediately and can be used for initiatives such as replacing destroyed equipment.

Minister for Recreation, Sport and Racing, Corey Wingard claimed the grants are a vital source of help to organisations faced with the challenging task of cleaning up and rebuilding.

“These fires have been devastating for so many communities with lives, homes and livestock tragically lost,” the Minister said.

“Community facilities have also been affected with damage feared at up to 20 sporting clubs following both the Adelaide Hills and Kangaroo Island fires.

In many communities across the State, these clubs play a much larger role than simply facilitating sporting events.

As a government we want to do everything we can to support these communities to help with the rebuilding process.

It will take time but we are committed to ensuring the process is as smooth and pain-free as possible and we are focused on making sure these sporting clubs can get back on their feet and continue to serve their broader communities.”

Any sporting association affected by the recent fires can apply for the grant at https://ORSR.smartygrants.com.au/Bushfire or call 1300 714 990.

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