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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.

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

Yarraville Glory Football Club boosted by $1.18 million funding grant

Yarraville Glory Football Club have been the beneficiaries of $1.18 million in funding through the West Gate Neighbourhood Fund community grants program.

The program has been delivered by the state government’s West Gate Tunnel Project with Yarraville receiving a lion share of the $6.4 million in funding, which has been divided across 19 different projects.

The club, who is based at McIvor Reserve, will use the funding to develop additional clubrooms, a new training and development room, a flexible floor plan, as well as flood lights and an equipment shed, which will be installed to improve playing and training conditions for participants.

Yarraville Glory Football Club secretary, Vince Cosentino, told Soccerscene that the submission proposal took him 10 hours to write after extensive consultation with local community groups, schools and MPs, as well as the local Greek community, who are heavily associated with the club.

The club submitted the application at the end of February last year after the West Gate Tunnel Project put out expressions of interest for community grants.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Yarraville only received the news they had been successful in their quest in recent weeks, with local MP Melissa Horne visiting the club to make the funding announcement.

Cosentino explained how the club plans to use the grant to benefit not only the club, but the wider community as a whole.

“It’s a real community club, the members and the board have been around for quite a while,” he said.

“What we are looking to do is open up the club a lot more.

“We’ve got a floor space that we are going to renovate to be able to invite more school groups in. We already host little school football matches and tournaments and other things like that, but we want to open it up for more educational experiences and for FV if they want to do any sort of training courses from there.

“Community groups will be able to use the facility more, we’ll upgrade the positioning of the canteen area to be able to cater for that sort of stuff. We are also going to put in some dedicated female changerooms which we don’t have at the moment and female gyms. We will be able to have a much more female friendly environment.”

With a home Women’s World Cup on the way in 2023 Cosentino claims it is vital that the club has accessible facilities for all, as it continues to grow its female presence across the board.

“I think it’s extremely important and it’s the one area that we necessarily haven’t tapped into as a club,” he said.

“Because it is a very ethnic club and it is a little bit more male dominated, we are really trying to pull back women into the game.

“I think this is the third season we have got a senior women’s team and there are really healthy numbers, in the grassroots especially, that’s what we have noticed this year.

“It’s massive, when you think about it it’s 50 percent of the population, it really needs to be tapped into. It’s what I consider a safe sport, it’s not like they are going to get their head knocked off or anything like that and its very community orientated.”

The club continues to work with council around the intricacies of the grant, with alternative renovations possibly made in the future.

“We’re working closely with council at the moment and there’s a lot of good governance structures, the process is as mature as I’ve seen in a very long time,” Cosentino concluded.

Image Credit: Melissa Horne MP

New community club support initiatives to be rolled out by Football Queensland

Football Queensland (FQ) has announced they will introduce a new offering of club support initiatives over the next weeks and months.

Football Queensland (FQ) has announced they will introduce a new offering of club support initiatives over the next weeks and months.

The move will benefit clubs based in the Sunshine State, as Football Queensland continue to focus on ways to strengthen the community, grassroots and volunteers for a more sustainable future.

“Football Queensland is committed to providing increased support to our clubs and dedicated volunteers at all levels of the game and this extensive new set of club support resources will provide practical guidance and support on a range of administration matters,” FQ President Ben Richardson said.

This news follows on from FQ’s announcement last week regarding their upgraded Club Support Hub, which is a go-to destination for club administrators to access important resources, guides and assistance with club processes and procedures.

“Following the launch of Football Queensland’s upgraded Club Support Hub last week, the introduction of FQ’s new club support initiatives will begin with an exciting new volunteer program which will be launched across the state in the coming weeks,” FQ CEO Robert Cavallucci said.

“As the season progresses, FQ will release a range of tailored resources for clubs that include new resources designed to inform clubs about specific operational activities including finance planning and budgeting, running an AGM and understanding the roles and responsibilities of committee members among others.

“Volunteers are critical to club operations, especially at this time of the season, so we are looking forward to providing an additional level of support to Queensland clubs as we strive to make the job easier for all volunteers.

“The development of additional club resources aligns with FQ’s commitment to providing high levels of customer service through the implementation of new technology and processes, while supporting clubs to deliver high-quality participation experiences in line with our Strategic Plan.

“We are excited to continue providing our clubs and volunteers across Queensland with unprecedented levels of support through the ongoing development of our Club Support Hub and the release of high-quality resources to strengthen our clubs at every level of the game.”

You can find the Club Support Hub here.

Football Australia announces major partnership with Commonwealth Bank of Australia

Football Australia and Commonwealth Bank Australia have announced a major partnership, which will make the Commonwealth Bank the largest investor in women’s football in Australia.

The CBA will become the official naming rights partner of the Matildas and will also make it the official bank of the Matildas, Junior Matildas, Young Matildas and Socceroos.

The partnership is for an initial four-year term with Football Australia’s release stating that the agreement will, “inject millions of dollars into elite women’s football and grassroots initiatives around the country.”

Commencing from August 2021, the partnership between CBA and Football Australia will include but is not limited to:

  • Official Naming Rights Partner of the Matildas, Junior Matildas and Young Matildas
  • Official Bank of the Matildas, Junior Matildas and Young Matildas
  • Official Partner the Female Football Awards
  • Official Naming Rights Partner of Matildas Fan Days
  • Official Partner and Bank of the Socceroos
  • Official Partner of the MiniRoos

Football Australia CEO, James Johnson, said the partnership was a crucial milestone ahead of a busy upcoming international schedule.

“We’re delighted to partner with Commonwealth Bank and see this as an exciting synergy of two of Australia’s great contemporary brands,” he said.

“We believe firmly in anchoring the growth of our sport in women’s football, the strength of our diverse community, promoting inclusivity in Australian football and enhancing the reputation of our national teams, both the Matildas and Socceroos as we embark on an incredibly busy international schedule over the next four years.

“We are thrilled that these core themes of our new 15-year vision and strategic agenda, which are so deeply embedded within our XI Principles for the future of Australian football, are also extremely important to Commonwealth Bank.

“This partnership is a wonderful representation of our bold new vision for the sport coming to life and the new trajectory of Australian football.

“We are proud to welcome Commonwealth Bank, one of Australia’s most iconic companies, to the football family as we embark, together, on this exciting journey of transformation towards becoming the centre of women’s football in the Asia-Pacific.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the enormous support that Westfield has and continues to provide to women’s football in Australia.

“Westfield’s commitment, leadership and significant investment in the game over 13 years has helped to create the current generation of champions and for that we will always be grateful. We continue to work with Westfield and indeed are excited about the Westfield Matildas taking on the Netherlands tonight.”

Football Australia Head of Women’s Football, Women’s World Cup Legacy & Inclusion, Sarah Walsh highlighted the significance of the ‘female-focused’ nature of the agreement.

“Commonwealth Bank’s female-focused investment will provide greater awareness of, and access to, women’s football,” she said

“We want to ensure every boy and girl has a great experience in the game they love and remain focused on building a legacy for our sport by providing girls with a pathway and inspiring them to play elite football.

“Only three months ago, Commonwealth Bank was ranked as Australia’s strongest brand, and as both an ex-player and administrator in the game, it is a truly proud moment to have such a significant organisation dedicating so much resource to our game.”

Commonwealth Bank CEO, Matt Comyn, said, the CBA was delighted to be add women’s football to its portfolio of partnerships, saying that in conjunction with the CBA’s partnership with women’s cricket, the bank was leading the way in supporting positive sporting outcomes for Australian women.

“Women’s football and women’s cricket are showing young Australian women they can achieve great things on the world stage,” he said.

“We look forward to working with Football Australia to ensure every girl and boy playing in a community club with a goal to play at an elite level has the same access and support to achieve their dream.

“The Matildas have been one of the great success stories of Australian sport in recent years as the women’s game has grown in stature and importance at home and around the globe.

“Many players are now in some of the best leagues in the world which has helped put Australian football on the map.

“We are delighted to partner with Football Australia in not only supporting the Matildas in their quest for World Cup glory, but equally as important, supporting the future growth and development of the game across all levels.”

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