Women’s football future discussed at Football Victoria Community in Business luncheon


Football Victoria’s recently held Community in Business (CIB) event saw women’s football discussed in depth by a panel of representatives from the sport.

Taking place at Hyatt Place Essendon Fields, the latest edition of Football Victoria’s annual celebration of the state’s burgeoning football industry provided an opportunity for Football Australia Head of Women’s Football Sarah Walsh, young Matilda Naomi Chinnama, and Football Australia Legacy Ambassador Azmeena Hussain to explore the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for women’s football in the lead-in to the men’s and women’s World Cups.

Speaking on her excitement for the year ahead in Australian football, Ms. Walsh (a Matildas legend and longtime advocate for the growth of women’s football) acknowledged the steps being taken to effectively capitalise on the momentum of the international tournament.

“I’ve started to see through this major event and hosting it, that we’ve been able to elevate our sport within conversation with not just major corporate and government but within the sports sector itself,” Ms. Walsh said.

“As an organisation I’ve got Arnie [Socceroos head coach Graham Arnold] in front of me and there’s no doubt we have a massive 10 months ahead. We’ve never had two senior World Cups so close together, so, it’s going to be a challenge and a lot of fun.

“The first opportunity for us is obviously in Qatar but I can’t stress enough how important it is for our sport to have two healthy national teams, you cannot just have the one. Particularly in today’s society, there’s an expectation that in order to drive equality you actually need to see really strong male and female role models together.”

Further affirming Ms. Walsh’s words was the fact that first release tickets for the Matildas’ Women’s World Cup games had been sold out, a result the Women’s Football Head felt was a testament to the growth strategies behind the marketing of the Matildas.

“In terms of the High Performance pillar, we’ve done a really good job with the Matildas thinking about the fact that you’re only given a small amount of content opportunities for them to play in the country. So, we’re quite deliberate as an organisation as to where we play these matches and actually who we bring out to play,” she said.

“Opening Sydney Football Stadium, bringing out the Olympic Gold Medalists – even though we didn’t win both of those matches the team would be better for it – plus the Disney docu-series, these are all really deliberate moves by us to make sure more people in Australia see more of the Matildas and get that intimate access.”

Sarah Walsh speaking with David Davutovic

Ms. Hussain, who is also a Football Victoria Board member and a Principal Lawyer for Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, offered eventgoers an insight into the role of the Legacy ’23 Final XI.

“We have a tremendous opportunity to make our mark and leave a legacy following the Women’s World Cup next year,” she stated.

“We’re less than a year away from the World Cup and from a legacy perspective the World Cup is really just the starting point and it’s what’s to come thereafter that really is exciting for the ambassadors.

“As an outward Muslim woman, I’m really keen to ensure that we have greater representation of the diversity that’s represented in the game. We all go to games every weekend and you’ll see there’s so many women from so many different walks of life that play the game at that grassroot level, but whether or not they’re infiltrated right through the game is a different story and Naomi is the modern face of football and we need to make sure we’re reflective of that.

“The 10 other incredible ambassadors plus myself hope to shape the blueprint for what football will look like into the future. Football Australia and Football Victoria have a commitment to 50-50 gender equity by 2027, no doubt the Women’s World Cup will fast track us to achieve that goal well before that target hopefully.

“There’s no doubt huge momentum building already and there’s a real buzz around the World Cup. I think we have a wonderful opportunity to showcase to the rest of the world our greatest talents, and at the same not only showcasing our current greatest talent, but harnessing those opportunities for casting a much wider net for increasing participation, removing barriers to participate in the sport, and really growing the sport. The whole eyes of the world will be on Australia and New Zealand come next year.”

Azmeena Hussain with Naomi Chinnama (left)

When questioned about the steps being taken to ensure the game is able to satisfy the inevitable increase in demand that is set to be ignited by the Women’s World Cup, Ms. Walsh reaffirmed the moves being made to maintain Football Australia’s commitment to 50-50 equity within Australian football by 2027.

“When it was announced that we had won the right to co-host the Women’s World Cup in the middle of COVID 2020, we brought our stakeholders in to make sure that we were building something that was not only sustainable but intersectional,” she said.

“Thinking about not just white women, but women of colour, First Nations women, all the abilities, ages, and you’ll see that reflected in our ambassadors in making sure that we reflect the true multicultural nature of our game.

“To my knowledge there’s no other sport talking about 50-50 equity. We’re putting it out there and we’ll probably have to adjust the timelines as it’s actually 2027. But that’s still another 400,000 women and girls playing the game.

“Our numbers are on the up and there will obviously be a spike around the tournament, but we want to make sure that our clubs are ready. In Victoria it’s one of the best states we have in terms of percentage of female-friendly facilities, but our challenge down here is that we’re running out of places to play, so, when these players turn up, we want to make sure clubs are prepared.

“We have to pull all of the levers to make this work and it will take all parts of the community to be a part of that. We’re just the national sporting body, Football Victoria are the sporting body for the state, it will take the people on the ground to actually start mobilizing around it.”

As the panel came to a close, Ms. Hussain provided attendees with an update on the development of the future Home of the Matildas in Melbourne.

“It’s incredible to see it in real life after seeing it on paper for so long. It’s coming together and once complete it will certainly springboard women’s football in Victoria and Australia. The centre is designed for women, by women, it will most certainly springboard out commitment to gender equity by 2027,” Ms. Hussain expressed.

“What’s terrific about the centre is there isn’t just a focus on the players but also on looking at football holistically. It’s building the capacity of referees, coaches, administrators, and of course women’s leadership in football. I believe that’s so important to ensure that women are infiltrated inside and out every aspect of this game. And to know we have a centre to help achieve that is terrific.”

The Women’s World Cup 2023 is set to begin July 20 next year at New Zealand’s Eden Park, with the Matildas kicking-off their tournament later at the newly rebuilt Sydney Football Stadium.

Football Coaches Australia presents: The Modern Requirements of Midfield players

Football Coaches Australia (FCA), together with renowned UEFA Pro Licence Coach Martin Hunter, will host the online event: The Modern Requirements of Midfield players (Technically/Tactically/Physically/Mentally).

Held from 7:30pm AEST on Monday, May 20, the online event will focus on the essential skills and qualities needed for a midfielder to succeed in today’s game.

Split into four key elements that make up midfield play, attendees will learn about the technical skills needed to excel on the field, the tactical awareness required to control the game, the physical attributes necessary to dominate the midfield, and the mental toughness needed to thrive under pressure.

Martin is one of the best coach educators in the game, with his internationally acknowledged coaching and football management expertise that has helped to develop players, coaches and managers.

He is also vastly experienced at professional club and national governing body levels as Director of Coaching and National Coach – which has seen him develop coaching and scouting systems used in national and international models of excellence.

Martin has worked at Southampton FC in a variety of roles that included Technical Director, as well as Watford FC, Norwich FC and Stoke City as First Team Coach. He was involved in the English FA as a Coaching Mentor and a Regional Coach and has consulted widely throughout Europe.

This online session will contribute 1 hour of FA approved CPD and is free for FCA members.

This is an opportunity not to be missed to dominate the middle of the park.

You can register via the link here: https://ow.ly/zWxn50RCY0l

Graham Arnold speaks at AFC National Coaches Conference

Socceroos’ Head Coach Graham Arnold addressed the 3rd Asian Football Confederation (AFC) National Coaches Conference on Thursday, 9 May in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The three-day conference reflects on insights gained from the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023, while also considering the forthcoming expanded FIFA World Cup in 2026.

It gave Graham Arnold and other AFC associated coaches a chance to exchange ideas and share information in a bid to help improve and inspire each other as Round Three of World Cup Qualification approaches.

Arnold was selected by the AFC and spoke amongst other eminent coaches from across the Confederation including former Manchester City legend Yaya Toure.

After a memorable 2022 World Cup campaign and over three decades of coaching within the confederation, it’s no surprise that Graham Arnold is held in such high regard, and this represents a step forward for Football Australia.

Football Australia CEO, James Johnson spoke on how important it was for Graham Arnold to speak at such an event.

“Arnie’s record and reputation within international football speaks for itself, and his leadership of the Subway Socceroos has been exceptional over the last six years,” Johnson said in an statement for Football Australia.

“His contribution to Australian football as a player and coach extends almost three decades, and he possesses a wealth of knowledge that can help assist the development of our game throughout Asia.

“Arnie is held in high esteem not just here in Australia, but throughout the Confederation and we’re extremely proud to see him playing such a key role in a conference of this significance.”

Socceroos’ Head Coach, Graham Arnold spoke about how honoured he was to be involved in the AFC National Coaches Conference.

“It’s a privilege to be sharing the room with so many fantastic coaches and I’m looking forward to sharing some of my experience with the group,” Arnold said at the event.

“We’ve all taken different journeys into coaching and bring varied perspectives which I think can be really valuable to discuss in this type of environment.

“I’m sure we’ll all walk away with something to take back and share with our respective teams – it’s a great initiative from the AFC.”

It is always positive to see top Australian coaches share and learn critical ideas from other successful names within the Asian football space as the country continues to underscore is commitment to advancing coaching quality.

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