David Gallop

One of the things I’ve quickly learned about Australian football in my first six months as CEO is that there is no off-season.

Every week of the year, even Christmas week, football is played across the nation. Traditional outdoor, social indoor, school comps, corporate events and kick arounds in the park. Football never sleeps.

The top tier Hyundai A-League is highly visible from October to May, but from April to September the semi-professional and grassroots tiers are in action everywhere.

Even that usual hectic year-round pace is going up a notch this year. Let’s call it ‘Super Winter’. The schedule in front of us is above and beyond anything the game has seen before.

For a start, the four-yearly FIFA World Cup cycle reaches its peak in June. As I write, the Qantas Socceroos are in Saitama preparing for the first of three decisive qualifiers on the road to Brazil.

Playing Japan away from home is tough at the best of times. Japan are the current Asian champions and ranked no. 1 in the AFC.

Not only that, the Japanese are playing for World Cup qualification in Saitama on 4 June. The stakes could hardly be higher.

Holger and the players know it will be hard, but my comfort comes from knowing that the Socceroos are never more dangerous than when their backs are against the wall.

I saw that spirit and character in the fightback against Oman from 2-nil down. Yes, Japan in Saitama is tough, but I reckon the odds against us will galvanise our team. I wish our coach and players the best of luck in this battle.

From there it’s two crucial games on home soil against Jordan in Melbourne and Iraq in Sydney. We must win both to keep our destiny in our own hands.

One very encouraging development in the past few weeks is the way Socceroo supporters have started to rally behind the team for these home games. I hosted an event in Sydney recently where some dedicated fans came together to discuss how to reinvigorate the active supporter area at Socceroos home games.

There was a second gathering in Melbourne this week with the same objectives. This is a work-in-progress, but the initiative is very much in keeping with game’s slogan – ‘We Are Football’. I can see the unity and purpose in what the fans are doing. Their passion and commitment is quite inspiring.

After an online forum debate, the new Socceroo active supporter group has decided on a name – Terrace Australis. I reckon it’s a clever combination of a football term and a geographic reference, as well as reaching back into our land’s ancient history.

If you want to know more, join the Socceroo fan forum.

The three World Cup qualifiers in June will be pivotal for Australian football. I can vividly remember the tension and the euphoria of the Uruguay game in November 2005.

I was there, jumping out of my seat when John Aloisi converted from the spot, before quickly sitting down with my old NRL hat on.

Now I’m looking forward to celebrations with no impediment. These are games that Australian football fans must see. There are good seats still available. Click here for more information.

Elsewhere in June, there are two other national teams with important fixtures.

The Westfield Matildas will play their first international under the new coach Hesterine de Reus. The match in Canberra on 16 June against New Zealand is the start of a new era and I wish Hesterine the very best of luck.
Later in the month, the Matildas will head to Europe for important internationals against the Netherlands and France. These games will help Hesterine prepare the Matildas to defend their AFC Asian Women’s Cup title next year.

On a grander scale, the Matildas are fine ambassadors for the 20 per cent of our participation base who are female. Success in the women’s national team can only help attract more young girls to our game, which is what we want.

In Turkey next month, the Young Socceroos will take to the world stage in the FIFA Under 20 World Cup. Coach Paul Okon has a tough assignment in a group including Colombia, El Salvador and host nation Turkey.

This is our next generation in a crucial phase of their careers. The way they adapt to the technical and tactical challenges, as much as the results they achieve, will be keenly observed by our Technical Department.

Much has been written about the need to regenerate the Socceroos, but a precursor is that our talent pipeline produces quality players. There are several exciting prospects in this Young Socceroos line up and I’m looking forward to a very positive tournament.

While June we’ll be thoroughly fixated with Green and Gold, in July things will largely turn red, but more on that in my next column.

See you at the Socceroos games.

How far will Western Sydney go in the AFC Champions League?

Comments (16)
Roary, can't totally agree. We needed cable to get the HAL up and running but the FFA tied into the 7 year extension way too early. With the WC success they could have gotten a FTA deal equal or better than cable in 2008/9. FTA is essential to the growth of Football and the audience base that should have access to the HAL on FTA is huge - as highlighted by the ABC's coverage of the W-League outrating the HAL on cable. Can't wait to see the figures next season. Problem is it is only a half-baked solution, we need all games on FTA so everyone can see their team, every week. The game has progressed beyond cable - it now needs FTA. And preferably on a commercial channel, not just SBS. Football is a game where the "at the game" experience so strong people will attend even if the game is on FTA. I doubt figures would be affected much at all by local FTA coverage. And if this is really an issue, don't show home games locally, or on a day's delay.
BenofBNE  |  
5 Jun 2013 10:17 AM
Joe it would be good to have FTA coverage but quite simply without Fox there would be no HAL. I think the FTA coverage of one game is great and as WSW have proved along with Victory is that by going to games you get the media and the sponsors. If you look at the NRL they get good FTA coverage but their crowds are very poor and after a while that hurts the code. The FFA have got it right with the new TV contract.
Roary  |  
4 Jun 2013 02:29 PM
It's great to see an administrator focussed on transparency and giving the most important resource (the fans) a voice, while listening and acknowledging issues. Modelling the Socceroos experience on the RBB's is the right step. Realistically we're swimming upstream to make the World Cup, and I think in this rebuilding phase it wouldn't be the end of the world if we missed out on getting our arses handed to us in Brazil. I'm just glad that thanks to the conservative growth strategy, weeding out the distractions (Clive Palmer) and smart recent administration we have the A-league as a strong backbone.
scottcollins  |  
3 Jun 2013 11:35 PM
Australia needs Football back on Free to Air Television ASAP. The NSW premier league should be televised weekly, just like the Rugby union has the Shute Shield which is televised every Saturday on the ABC. The Hummel F-League is the Australian Futsal premier league which should be televised. There are so many Elite football competitions that are played in Winter all over Australia. The FFA have been looking after their own back pockets for too long now and need spend the money on the future of football in this country.
Joe Giarratano  |  
3 Jun 2013 11:55 AM
I remain amused by concerns about the ;loss of revenue argument. Participation in the world's greatest sporting event is not a right - and clearly one the previous administrators of the game were unable to achieve. For 32 years we hoped and after inevitable failure we simply accepted it and went back about our domestic football business. Now, after a couple of qualifications, our expectations are much, much higher. This is as it should be - but I simply ask that while the sport is transitioning from a fractured, State focused, club dictated wilderness to a truly national code (like no other in this country) that we reflect on how far we have come, accept that this transition is occurring at a time when the rest of football's developing world is ALSO making huge steps forward and doing so in a much less competitive market. We may pay a price for structural reform in the short – medium term. But Australia has no choice. We must reform or watch the rest of the world leave us behind. If our ENTIRE footballing nation is not unified in strategy AND action with a bias for development – we will only have ourselves to blame. Pip squeak nations such as ours will only succeed in this big sporting world by being smarter. Good work FFA. Stay the course.
mahonjt  |  
3 Jun 2013 10:59 AM
David , the spirit of transition for football in Australia is a work in progress >It will emerge when the realisation comes to those empowered to make change that by being smarter and leave self interest at the door. Funds deficiencies but by working with schools , clubs , universities, councils and facilities with whatever corporate sponsors want to be positive changes will eventuate, If all Hyundai A-league franchises work in a fresh manner with state federations and FFA development staff , impinging into football education in really innovative manner. Set new standards by looking at technology , sourcing overseas produc ts and strive for change to excel and innovate. I have read , seen and witnessed a reluctance to taka the high ground , seize the day in all things and engage the Football family at all points. In 2 years time what changes will we see at state , federation , club , Hyundai franchise , school , community and facility level. This is the discussion that needs to be held in the sport.
Tony  |  
31 May 2013 09:57 PM
peeps..time to wake up and smell the coffee. Let's break down the up-coming games in June shall we... 1. vs Japan - I would call myself a realist and identify a 2 or 3-0 loss here. Take the green and gold glasses off and look at the squads. Pleeease we are horribly out-classed. Ask any football pundit who isn't a washed up ex-Socceroo and they'll tell you the same thing 2. vs Jordan - mmm..let's see they beat Japan and we couldn't beat Oman at home last time around, what makes anybody think it'll be any different against the pucky Jordanians... 3 vs Iraq - while they are aging even faster than us (if that's possible) - I would hate to be in a must win position against one of our recent Asian bogey teams... I'm not happy when we fail dad of Chloe. I'm peeved and livid. Heads should roll.... We are a proud sporting nation, we are a proud football nation. So far in 2013 there has been nothing to be proud about. Prove me wrong. I would love nothing more....
Mr Progress  |  
31 May 2013 02:35 PM
Brisman I'm with you and so are all my friends. Socceroos is a stupid name especially when asking to be called football. This name came in handy when we were desperate but that situation has changed. The name Australian Football Team would set us apart and get up the nose of a few as well. It really is a contradiction and totally stupid. It's almost childish the current name and does nothing to lift our profile and in fact makes us look at bit stupid. Have a by name, maybe something indigenous.
Roary  |  
31 May 2013 12:35 PM
Bit ironic calling your self mr progress comment 2. I would ask - What are your plans for building on lackluster but ultimately successful World Cup qualifying bid? What will you do with the revenue from successfully qualify? How will you build on the increase in mainstream press support for for football in this country and the Socceroos brand when we qualify? we are equal second with a game in hand Mr progress. I really don't get people who are only happy if their team fails
chloesdad  |  
30 May 2013 11:14 PM
You have it sooooo wrong MR PROGRESS. The A-league is the biggest football thing in town. The Socceroos may get to Brazil or not but I'll be glued to every HeartFC game nonetheless. Take my word for it, the Socceroos were seen as the be all and end all of Australian football some years ago but now the A-league provides all the headlines you need and more. But it would be good to see the Green&Gold in Brazil!
Stevo  |  
30 May 2013 11:06 PM
Bravo Mr.Gallop. I'm glad to see you enunciate that football is a year round sport. I think that it has been a failing of FFA in the past with the mainstream media falling away when the A League season finished and the off season started, and there only being a brief spotlight on the mens national team in qualifying matches. It seems now that there is a real effort to engage with both the mainstream media and the general public to highlight that the womens and youth national teams are well worth following and watching. I'm also enthusiastic about the promotion of the National Premier Leagues branding, and can't wait until we start seeing some of the results of these levels becoming a regular part of mainstream media sports reports.
Mark from Croydon  |  
30 May 2013 11:00 PM
Speaking personally I would love to see the horrible term/name (call it what you will) 'Socceroo' dropped. How can you expect people to refer to FOOTBALL when the national team still uses an outdated name as their moniker. Just because so many other sports have this type of name why does football. The Aussie cricket side is just that 'the Aussie cricket team', no silly names attached before or after. Let's begin to call our football team the same way, simply 'the Aussie football team'. I know this comment will get caned by all those who love names such as Wallabies, Kangaroos, etc. etc. While on the subject how about also dropping the name 'Matildas'? That is even sillier than Socceroos.
brisman  |  
30 May 2013 07:16 PM
Loving your work so far David, great to see the consultation going on! C'mon Socceroos!
DL  |  
30 May 2013 04:48 PM
Your "State of the Game'"column provides all football fans with a greater level of awareness of what the FFA is undertaking and where the leadership team is directing its energies. The loss of brand impact of the Socceroos over the last 3 years is very noticeable and your fan forums to address ' how to reinvigorate the active supporter areas at Socceroos home games' are viewd as of immense importance to football. The 'fan forum' engagements and the name 'Terrace Australia" are a step out of the cold and gloomy hallways within the FFA headquarters. Several initiatives has been talked about by fans & supporters alike but mostly inaction by the former administration . . . nice to see that the doors are starting to open for all football fans. Much of the 'Socceroo fan forum' feedback / suggestions & ideas will take time to bring together in a workable strategy. The NOW requirement is to have large supporter groups all in gold football shirts at the two home games against Jordan & Iraq coming up next month at both ends of each stadium singing & chanting to each other and bringing in the two side supporter groups with trunderous applause & overwhelming passion like the RBB have achieved at Parramatta Stadium. The FFA can assist the major block groups with handing out cover-over gold shirts where supporters do not have a Socceroo shirt or similar gold apparel. Japan's football supporters are given the 'blue samurai' shirt to create the impact. A feesable timeframe should be 3 months for the FFA to build an ACTION PLAN to pull together what can be undertaken to rebuild the Socceroo brand and supporter passion. It's still out there but it's been on ice for a couple of years. Let's crack ice David!
JOHN  |  
30 May 2013 04:15 PM
What are your plans for a failed World Cup qualifying bid? Where will the lost revenue from failing to qualify come from? How will you handle the loss of mainstream press support for the damaged Socceroos brand when we fail to qualify?
Mr Progress  |  
30 May 2013 02:51 PM
David, Firstly i have been impressesd with the way you have started your role as the head of FFA. Secondly lets hope the Socceroos qualify for the next World Cup both for the accelerated development of the game and secondly so we can go to Brazil and enjoy the World Cup live. Thirdly you as the leader of FFA need to urgently get involved in the Victorian NPLV negotiations as the best playing standard league outside the A league is about to enter chaos with many of the main clubs in the Victorian Premier league boycotting it. You can contact me on my email provided here if you can discuss this further. Thank you.
savas  |  
30 May 2013 12:33 PM

David Gallop

David Gallop is one of Australia's most respected sports administrators after 15 years in senior excutive roles. David was appointed CEO of Football Federation Australia in November 2012. He serves as Deputy Chairman of the Australian Sports Commission and is a member of the ASC Commercialisation, Innovation and Technology Committee. Gallop was a winner of the Australian Sports Administrator of the Year Award (2006) and the NSW Sports Administrator of the Year (2002).