In the wake of the Federal election and an extraordinary period for football in Australia and Europe, we are reminded that obsessive commitment to the task ahead yields extraordinary outcomes.
With this in mind, Football Victoria (FV) launched our bold FootbALLways Strategic Plan in March 2019 following a thorough consultation process with our stakeholders.
We are maintaining an aggressive focus on solving the chronic state-wide underinvestment in football facilities across the state. Despite securing more than $140M in funding support from governments and councils since 2017, it is an accepted fact that Victoria requires an additional 420 full-size equivalent pitches by 2026 based on the current deficiency, and projected participation and population growth. Our focus is on identifying, qualifying and generating a pipeline of facility projects to meet this obstructive deficit.
We are continuing the investment into our 358 clubs through our mobile Club Ambassadors program. Over the past 12 months, our Club Ambassadors have conducted in excess of 1,000 meetings with clubs, 250 meetings with councils, 150 meetings with regional associations and 70 meetings with regional sports assemblies (RSAs). Our objective is to actively support each club through greater collaboration with FV and local councils for facilities, grant funding, and local football and community programs.
Pleasingly, the FV Club Engagement Program has been completed with 319 of our clubs, with at least half of our clubs now rated a three-star or better. Further, in a pre-season survey of our clubs, the Club Ambassadors received an 8.7/10 net promoter score rating, with more than 90% appreciative of the Club Ambassadors’ support for them.
Through Club Ambassadors working with clubs and FV departments in 2019, we have seen a 9.7% increase in female registrations and 12.6% increase in MiniRoos Kick-off participants.
FV is also working diligently with clubs to help increase their individual revenues with the introduction of a new platform in July/August designed to provide clubs with a turn-key solution to operate the growing demand for social and casual football programs at their own facilities.
Our FootbALLways consultation process also identified further core pillars important to the prosperity and welfare of the game. FV needs to invest and mobilise resources to better promote the game; improve the enjoyment of participation for all; and find more and better ways to provide opportunities for our people and communities to benefit from football.
Within our plan resides an aspirational 50:50 gender participation target by 2027. To that end, we’re well underway with a range of initiatives including:
• Launching the Emerging Matildas program
• Completing the women and girls’ competition review for implementation in 2020
• Recruiting Karen Pierce, one of Victoria’s most respected sporting administrators, to lead the bold women and girls’ strategy
• Supporting FFA’s bid for Australia to the 2023 Women’s World Cup
• Working closely with schools and government to promote football more prominently in their curriculum throughout the state from 2020
• Governance leadership with 50:50 gender representation on the FV Board.
However, without doubt, the most significant opportunity to positively impact our gender participation target is securing a state-of-the-art international standard training and administration centre as the Home of the Matildas in Victoria. Our vision is to promote the Matildas football brand across Australia, Asia and beyond by establishing a world’s best practice destination for female players, coaches, referees and administrators.
We are delighted that the State Government has funded the business case and the “Expression of Interest” process is already at an advanced stage based on a strong response from many potential council partners. The project received a considerable boost with the $15M bipartisan commitment during the Federal election. Our next task is to secure the additional funding required and complete the build in time for the 2023 Women’s World Cup as part of Australia’s efforts to win the hosting rights. This has the potential to be Football Victoria’s single most significant project ever.
Football Victoria (FV):
Importantly, FV is pressing ahead with the governance reforms to serve the game, the clubs and its communities. This year, we expect to complete the following matters with our stakeholders:
i. FV Constitution
The FV Constitution and By-Laws requires updating to recognise the prevailing FIFA, AFC and FFA Statutes, and relevant Australian and Victorian legislative requirements. This comprehensive process in 2019 will include stakeholder consultation and independent specialist guidance and advice.
FV commenced and initiated a review of the FV Constitution in 2016, however this has been held in abeyance pending resolution of the FFA Congress matter, which resulted in material changes to the FFA Constitution. These changes included membership structure, gender balance and the director election process, among others, many of which are pertinent to the FV Constitution.
ii. FV Member Elections
As the current FV Member two-year term draws to a close, the 2019 FV Member Election process is underway and I would encourage everyone to inform themselves and consider how they can further participate and contribute to our governance and future direction.
I encourage FV Members to distribute this information to your colleagues. The strength of our organisation is, and will continue to be, underpinned by the calibre of our elected Members to faithfully represent their constituents within the FV governance framework.
iii. FV Board
Two new directors were elected by the FV Members to the FV Board in March 2019. Harry Zaitman and Azmeena Hussain bring a wealth of knowledge to complement and contrast the incumbents. I am proud of our Board diversity across demographic and experiential attributes, which brings significant benefits to our decision making and the representative personality of the FV Board.
I also wish to express my sincere gratitude to the FV Members for the privilege of continuing to serve as President, having been elected unopposed. On behalf of the FV Board, we humbly accept the mandate to continue with our ambitious agenda for football in this state.
The Board is due to commence the formal process of appointing two directors to further enhance our skillsets and capability. These details will be released in June.
iv. FV Football Committee and Projects
Over the past 12-18 months, the FV Football Committee has adopted a bold objective to lead the national benchmarking for Member Federation football competitions and outcomes. These projects include:
1. Men and Boys Competition Reviews
- NPL Junior Structures – decoupling from seniors and opening the junior competition structure and licences to all 358 clubs to enter the NPL pathway.
- NPL Senior Structures – decoupling from juniors and installing the traditional promotion and relegation format to align with the performance objectives of senior football.
- Audit of existing NPL Clubs against criteria for 2020 – implementing consistent and transparent compliance to embed quality control for Victorian premium competitions.
- Women and Girls Competition Reviews - findings and recommendations for 2020 being finalised in the coming months, following an exhaustive consultation process.
- Pathways and Talent Id programs TIDC (Boys), NTC and Emerging Matildas (Girls).
- Referees – acknowledging the significant challenge to retain and develop referees to support the increasing player participation and quality targets for the years ahead.
The Junior Boys NPL competition structures involved more than 18 workshops, sessions and meetings conducted by FV to design and prepare implementation of the new Junior NPL model in 2020. The process undertaken was recognised as being extremely thorough and consultative, while accepting that not all concurred necessarily with every decision. The Women and Girls reviews is similarly wide-ranging and comprehensive.
Last week, an Assessment Panel reviewed all the EOI applications for an NPL Junior licence in 2020 (45 EOI registered, 31 submitted applications). The feedback from FFA was extremely positive, stating that no other process with which they have been involved was as well prepared, comprehensive and strategic as the panel assessment conducted by FV.
FV is proud of evolving our competitions to be the national benchmark and creating what is likely to become a blueprint nationally for junior national competition structures. It is pleasing to note that FNSW also adopted many of the Review outcomes.
This has been successfully led and inspired by FV Board Member and Chair of the FV Football Committee Sezar Jakupi, whose philosophy is to ensure that our stakeholders are continually abreast of, and have input into, major football policy and strategy decisions. FV has fostered a close relationship, trust and understanding amongst the FV Football Committee, Standing Committees, and clubs led by original Chair Gary Cole and the FV executive team Peter Filopoulos, Will Hastie and Emilio Amanatidis.
I wish to specifically acknowledge outgoing FV Board Director Nicholas Tsiaras, who tirelessly championed vital progressive reforms for the development of football in Victoria. He will be replaced on the FV Football Committee by incoming director Harry Zaitman.
Football Federation Australia (FFA)
As you would all be aware, the broader governance and structures of the game at the national level have been undergoing significant reform through the Congress Review Working Group (CRWG) in July 2018, material amendments to the FFA Constitution in October 2018, and the subsequent report of the New Leagues Working Group (NLWG) in March 2019.
i. FFA governance and professional leagues
The task remains for football’s stakeholders to satisfactorily resolve the outstanding matters of the professional leagues’ structures for the ‘good of the Australian game’. This includes the Hyundai A-League, Westfield W-League and the proposed national second division. FV has participated throughout the reform process and is a member of the NLWG and National Second Division Working Group (NSDWG) charged with resolving these matters prior to 30 June 2019. FV is committed to working constructively and harmoniously with the professional leagues, clubs and FFA to bring greater success to Australian football.
The outcomes are likely to have a further impact on the current FFA Constitution.
ii. FFA Standing Committees
A further element contained within the reforms of the FFA Constitution in October 2018 was the introduction of 14 new Standing Committees (Section 18). Each committee requires nominees from among the nine State and Territory Member Federations (including FV). The final process is yet to be agreed by the Member Federations, however it will be distributed to FV Members and Clubs to encourage the participation of outstanding candidates in our national governance framework.
Remainder of 2019
FV and its membership has been committed to a period of substantial reform and action to realign the organisation’s priorities and focus to meet the demands of the modern game and support its bright future. This has meant steady and deliberate changes across governance, business strategy and capability, the service model, and staffing.
For FV to continue to discharge its responsibilities to meet the overwhelming and increasing demand for football, we must pursue sustainable growth for our Victorian football economy. Targeted investment, intelligent consistent decision-making, and crisp execution are required of FV and our clubs, underpinned by effective and committed collaboration.
We propose to host a meeting with our Members, clubs and stakeholders shortly after the 2019 Member elections. The agenda will include an update on the 2019 organisational performance and financials, along with the opportunity for Members and clubs to add other relevant topics.
On behalf of your Board, we acknowledge and appreciate your ongoing contribution to the prosperity of the beautiful game in Victoria.