Football cannot afford to lose the political funding game anymore. For the sake of the men’s and booming women’s game. Now is the time. Here's why.
An alarming stat came out of Football NSW yesterday.
This stat sums up football and funding right now.
In a press release, FNSW pointed out that females make up almost 25% of football participation in NSW but as their facilities audit has highlighted "...88% of change rooms across the state are not female friendly and are forcing women and girls to get changed in sub-par conditions."
How can this be?
The Matildas of the future need encouragement to play and in an appropriate environment.
The bare minimum is gender-specific changing rooms.
Why? Because football IS Australia’s sport.
That’s not some football-centric insider’s view - that’s a statistical fact.
Last month, an AusPlay survey released by Sport Australia confirmed football as the number one organised sport in Australia, with more than 1.76 million participants.
The survey showed 5.4 percent of the adult (15 years old +) male population regularly participates in football, with more than 396,000 girls and women participating, one of the highest numbers of any sport.
More than 681,000 children aged up to 14 years took part in organised out-of-school football.
For a sport that has grassroots numbers that other codes would die for, it’s high time football mobilised and executed a clear strategic plan.
It makes so much sense, as other codes have found out, to help the government at all levels reach their goals.
And, as such, it’s good for the nation’s health and wellbeing as well as social cohesion and inclusivity.
Other codes that have no international profile whatsoever have been milking it for years.
It’s time that pendulum swung the way of the round ball.
But we need to understand how to play the game - that is key.
If you want an example to aspire, look no further than Football Federation Victoria.
They have launched a proposal to establish the Home of Football for the Matildas.
The proposal follows a $200,000 grant late last year from the Andrews Government to fund a feasibility study into the establishment of a state-of-the-art facility that would host training camps and elite pathway programs for the Matildas.
More than that though has been the policy platform built by FFV over the last year.
They have shown a unified, strategic approach can generate increased amounts of funding to help fund the game at grassroots.
In their case, $118 million worth in funding commitments from the state and local governments after last November’s state election (won by the Andrews Labour Government).
Government sources told FTBL that some of the FFV’s funding has taken money off the table for the AFL, who for years have had a similar, strategic campaign but lacked the 'compelling narrative' FFV was now able to tell.
There was a buzz at last week’s FFV’s community in business function at Docklands, with the game in the southern state now a leader in government relations and lobbying.
Under the leadership of former Perth Glory CEO Peter Filopoulos, the FFV is working feverishly on its funding campaign ahead of the May 18 Federal election.
Other football federations are shouting from the rooftops now that audits are being done and the depth of the problem is being revealed across the nation.