South Nowra hosts annual National Indigenous Football Championships

Thursday the 31st of October sees the start of the National Indigenous Football Championships at South Nowra Football Complex in the Shoalhaven, New South Wales.

Following a midweek ALDI Miniroos clinic on the Wednesday, the championships will be in full swing the following morning, with three days of fierce action.

The culmination of the event is a day of finals on Saturday the 2nd of November. Much will be at stake on that day. It will feature highly competitive senior and junior matches, showcasing some of the most promising and skilful indigenous footballers in the country and a demonstration of Elder’s Walking Football.

The championships have grown in stature over the last four years and Football New South Wales has continued to support what is a vital pathway for young indigenous players and a means to address their considerable under-representation at the top levels of Australian football.

The governing body has worked closely with local club Wreck Bay Sharks FC from the inception of the concept and participation numbers have hit an all-time high in 2019. There will be in excess of 500 indigenous players assembled in South Nowra for the event; with 44 clubs involved across both the senior and junior levels.

There will be sixteen male and female teams competing in the senior section of the draw, along with ten male and female teams in the age restricted junior competition (under-14’s).

Whilst an obvious celebration of the round ball game and an opportunity for competitive play in an officially recognised tournament, the event is so much more. The untapped football potential of our indigenous community is considerable.

Proportionally, the number of indigenous men and women who have been granted opportunity and played their way onto the national scene is abhorrently low. Thankfully, with opportunities such as the National Indigenous Football Championships in Nowra, and its continued expansion and growth, such opportunities will be afforded to a far greater number of indigenous footballers in the future.

Travis Dodd, Kasey Wehrman and Jade North flew the flag for Australia’s first peoples at A-League level before their retirements. The baton was then passed to James Brown and David Williams as proud indigenous men playing in Australia’s top flight. Now, they too have departed and young Western Sydney Wanderers defender Tate Russell looms as the most significant indigenous A-League presence.

Just a trickle of talent plies its trade in NPL competitions across the country and far more needs to be done to develop and encourage young indigenous talent. In the women’s game, representation appears far more significant.

Western Sydney goal keeper Jada Mathyssn-Whyman’s future looks bright. Gema Simon, Lydia Williams and Kyah Simon are confirmed stars in the Matildas’ squad, all representing their heritage and nation with class, dignity and grace each and every time they take to the pitch.

The path to self determination and inclusivity has been a long and arduous one for Australia’s indigenous population. Despite the best intentions of many, unlocking the secrets to opportunity, participation and continued involvement in organised sport has proven difficult.

As the Australian Indigenous Football Championships continue to grow year on year, one can only hope that more talent is exposed, recognised and supported in the future. Football is yet to harness a way to ensure all young Indigenous Australians experience the game, nor been able to provide the appropriate pathways for talent to develop as other local sports have.

It is something that the domestic governing bodies must continue to work towards.

Enquiries can be made at nationalindigenousfootball@gmail.com





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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


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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