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Football Victoria to celebrate first ever Indigenous Round

Round 21 of NPL Victoria will be the inaugural Indigenous Round between July 12 and 15.

All clubs and competitions from Victoria will take part in an Indigenous Round that recognises past contributions.

With 2019’s NAIDOC Week falling between the 7th and 14tn of July, it marks a time where people can celebrate the history, culture and achievements of both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The focus being a week to respect those from all walks of life.

A feature of the Indigenous Round is having the cultural artwork, created by Stan Yarramunua. Its significance begins with the white representing the milky way, while the two rings separating the white and brown dots represent both males and females. The brown dots signify community and the inner circles represent land with the blue characterising waters.

This historic round will start a new tradition and something that can build for years to come. Current Hume City player James Brown is also Football Victoria’s Indigenous Programs Co-ordinator and is just one of many indigenous Australians taking part in the game.

To commemorate Indigenous Round, the following will be able to take place:

  • A pre-game Acknowledgement of Country.
  • A photo of teams and match officials together with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags.
  • Sharing of Indigenous Round content on club’s social media platforms and websites.

Clubs can also add #FVIndigenousRound to their posts and share any related content to all their social media outlets.

Liam Watson is a Senior Journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on international football policy, industry matters and industry 4.0

Junior football makes its return in Devonport

Football Queensland

After a delayed start due to the COVID-19 crisis, the 2020 Devonport Junior Soccer Association season began this past weekend.

Close to 700 juniors between the age of four and twelve were back on the football field in the city of Devonport.

Football Tasmania CEO Matt Bulkeley was excited to see the children return to play the state’s favourite team sport.

“COVID-19’s impact was felt particularly hard on the north-west coast, creating a lot of uncertainty about whether the season could kick-off,” Mr Bulkeley said.

“To see children back out on the pitch again, having fun and being active is a great reward for whole community after a tough few months.

“With junior matches also starting across Burnie in the Western School Soccer Association earlier this month and the Northern Championship, WSL and NPL seasons underway, the football family on the north-west coast has finally returned to doing what they like best on the weekend – enjoying our great game.

“The 2020 season wouldn’t have been possible without the tireless work of all the volunteers, clubs and associations who have put in so many hours to make the return to football safe.

“On behalf of the entire Tasmanian football family I wholeheartedly thank everyone involved in rebooting football so players and families can again enjoy the vast array of health and social benefits playing the sport provides.

“I’d also like to thank our 2020 junior competition partners MyState Bank and Southern Cross Austero for their roles in helping get junior players back on the pitch safely and in time to fit in a meaningful season.”

DJSA President Richard Bidwell claimed there was a huge sense of relief to finally begin the football season.

“While this season may be shorter than usual, it’s been a lot busier behind the scenes, dealing with both the COVID delay and the building works at Meercroft Park.

“I’d like to thank everyone involved – from the DJSA staff and volunteers, to the schools and the Devonport City Council – for understanding the circumstances and making it possible for our kids to play.

“After being all set to go in March and then facing the unknown of how many players we’d have for 2020 if we could get a season in, it’s wonderful that football is finally back at Meercroft.”

Do the Matildas need a female coach?

With the recent decision by former Matildas coach Ante Milicic to move into the head coaching role at A-League club Macarthur Bulls, the national team is now in need of a new mentor.

The 46-year-old Milicic did a commendable job with a group of women fast becoming Australia’s national team of choice. The 2019 World Cup in France did not quite bring the football glory for which the nation had hoped, with the women entering the event as a top ten ranked team, seemingly destined to navigate the group stage and compete in the knockout phase.

A Round of 16 loss to Norway torpedoed the Matildas from the competition when the dreaded penalty shootout denied them an opportunity to advance. Since, Milicic has continued in his role and after two warm up friendlies against Chile, led the team in a successful Olympic Qualifying campaign.

In truth, he had done little wrong and had he chosen to stay in the job, the likelihood is that he would have been afforded that opportunity. However, it appears the Sydney born ex-Socceroo had his eyes fixed on the top job in Sydney’s southwest and the chance to test his skills in the A-League.

That decision has opened up discussion around who his successor should be. Rumours circle that former USWNT coach Jill Ellis is high on the FFA hit list, others claim the popular Ross Aloisi is the clear favourite, whilst some believe Ante Juric or Arsenal coach Joe Montemurro would be ideal.

In recent weeks, it has been noted that Ellis appears to be a front runner for the position yet the only woman on the short list.

Internationally proven names such as Sarina Weigman and Carolina Morace have been thrown forward as female candidates for a position that many feel should be filled by a woman. There is a firm belief that the time is nigh and that the potential symbolism of such a move would be a powerful statement.

Personally, I would like to seek the best person selected for the attractive task of taking the Matildas to the Tokyo Olympics and forwards toward the 2023 Women’s World Cup on home shores, whichever sex they may be.

Getting the right professional fit will be vital for a team competing in the most speedily advancing women’s code on the planet, with the quality and depth seemingly improving at an exponential rate. Appointing a new coach for any reason other than them being the best suited to the role and a with proven record of being able to extract the absolute best from the players at his or her’s disposal would be folly.

Whilst I believe that the above is indeed a measured and logical argument, there is also a line of thinking that sees significant women in the Australian game determined to ensure that the role is indeed filled by a female; a view that is reportedly at odds with the sentiments of many players within the Matildas squad.

The last time a Matildas team was coached by a woman, things ended in disaster; perhaps informing the current players’ preference not to demand a female appointment and their contentment with the men who have led them in recent years, Milicic and former coach Alen Stajcic.

Certainly there is no suggestion that the appointment of a female coach would result in the same outcomes as 2014, however some players appear fearful of a ‘token’ female appointment; one based on a belief that a woman’s team should have a woman coach and not only on the quality of the candidate.

Personally, I would love to see the Matildas led by a woman, in the same way I would like to see the Socceroos led by a woman should she be the best person for the job.

Former Matilda Shelley Youman has been a strong advocate for a female coach of the national squad. In an interview with Australian website Women in Football contributor Janakan Seemampillai, Youman suggested the modern group of Matilda’s should “grow up” and accept the idea of a female coach.

She doubled down by stating that the importance of appointing a woman to the role was so paramount at this stage of the women’s game in Australia that “If we can’t find a woman, look harder.”

Many would bemoan such an appointment as one designed to suit an emotional and utopian aspiration for the Matildas. The alternative view presented by women previously or currently involved in the domestic game, would instead cite the lack of belief in and failure to identify and develop female coaches in the past.

Those holding that view believe in investing in a highly credentialed woman for the role now, rather than potentially recirculating another male from within the FFA system.

As the Matildas embark on a busy three years of important football, the appointment could well make or break their chances. Firstly, of a successful Olympic campaign and also the development of a squad capable of seriously competing for the 2023 Women’s World Cup.

The powers at be will need to determine;

a) Whether it is indeed time for a woman to take the reins of the Matildas.

b) The identity of the woman capable of doing so.

Should the answer to a) be no and/or the right candidate not found, the coach will, once again, most likely be male. That decision would infuriate the proud female pioneers of Australia’s football past, yet also be one with which the Matildas appear to have little problem.

Macarthur FC links up with Southern Tablelands FA

A-League newcomers Macarthur FC have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Southern Tablelands Football Association (STFA).

The MOU will see STFA join the three other existing football associations in the region, who have already partnered with the 12th A-League club.

Macarthur Football Association, Southern Districts Football Association and Bankstown Amateur Football Association are the other bodies already in a partnership with the Bulls.

The newly signed agreement will boost grassroots football in the Southern Tablelands with over 100 clubs and up to 30,000 players and officials to be engaged by the new A-League club’s community programs.

Macarthur FC Chairman, Gino Marra, outlined the importance of the new club expanding its community footprint.

“This MOU is an important step for the future growth of the game in our region. We know collaboration, consultation and engagement are the key components to develop and inspire the next generation of players. We are thrilled to welcome Southern Tablelands Football Association to the Bulls family.

“The largest growth area of football, not only in our community, but across the country, is female participation. It is imperative for us, as a club, to develop further programs that enhance female participation across all areas in the game, especially in the lead up to the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2023,” Marra concluded.

Director of Southern Tablelands Football Association, Craig Norris, was delighted with the prospect of partnering with Macarthur FC.

“I’m excited that our association will be part of the Macarthur FC journey. For our players, coaches, and admin staff to identify with a national club is a huge boost. Having a local A-League club like Macarthur FC, shining a light on grassroots football with our association will provide our members the feeling of being part of something massive.”

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