I have been humbled by the response to my first column and will continue to look at the issues mentioned from junior pathways to an FFA Cup.
Two weeks ago today when I started the job as FFA CEO I said my goal was to make everyone who plays, watches and works either for wages or on a volunteer basis to feel like they belong in football.
I-ve been humbled by the response. The message has been well received among football people and in return you-ve shown so much goodwill to me. I feel like I belong already.
Your encouragement and kind words are much appreciated. I take heart from the comments posted on the web and sent by email in response to my open letter on day one in the job.
There-s a strong sense of mission behind the sentiments. I feel the football community understands that there is an historic opportunity awaiting the game. I sense that you want a CEO who will listen, consult, but most of all make decisions that will deliver on the opportunity we have.
I will work hard to live up to this huge responsibility.
There are so many ways that football touches the everyday lives of Australians. In my first fortnight, I experienced the incredible breadth of football.
Some the highlights of my diary so far:
• Meeting coaches, players and fans at Hyundai A-League games;
• Meeting the Presidents and CEOs of the State and Territory federations;
• Watching the Qantas Socceroos come back from a goal deficit to defeat South Korea;
• Being part of the announcement of a record broadcast deal with our valued partners Fox Sports, Foxtel and SBS, and;
•Seeing the wonderful celebration of the grassroots community and the best internationals at the Australian Football Awards
My ‘To Do- list is pretty long and I-m looking forward to getting to experience a Westfield W-League game next. On the women-s game, I should note the end of an era for the Westfield Matildas, who have played their last game under long-serving coach Tom Sermanni.
I-ve been told about Tom-s enormous contribution over 10 years in the job and I wish him well in his new post with the USA women-s national team set up. Losing to China and missing the East Asian Football Federation final tournament was not the way he wanted to go, but that-s football.
I-ve spent some time reading the comments posted on the web in relation to my open letter and I thank all those who took the time to share their thoughts.
All this feedback is important in helping me form my views in the early stages of the job.
There were a few common themes in the posts. One has already been fixed. The desire of many to have free-to-air TV coverage of the Hyundai A-League and Qantas Socceroos will be satisfied by the arrangements in place with SBS.
Many raised the issue of the cost of playing football. I know in society today the cost of living is a constant concern, whether it be electricity prices, health care or the property rental market.
I don-t think there-s a quick fix for this issue, but I will be looking at this in detail to learn more. I can see that having 1.7 million participants in a game that-s still consolidating its foundations is bound to cause a squeeze on resources.
The appeal of a national knock-out competition styled on the English FA Cup is another big topic. I know this idea has been floated, but bringing it into reality is a major piece of work. I-m a fan of the concept and will support the introduction of an FFA Cup when it can be delivered in a financially responsible way that benefits all stakeholders.
The elite junior player pathway was also frequently mentioned. The cost of participating and access to top-quality coaching were two elements raised. My early inquiries in this area revealed some complex issues, so again I will be seeking more information.
I will be using my regular web columns to keep the community up-to-date with issues and to listen to your views.
The FFA digital team tell me that around 65,000 people took in the open letter, unfortunately I won-t be able to respond individually to all those that replied, but we-ll continue the conversation in our digital channels.
In closing, thank you again for the generous welcome to football. We have exciting times ahead. I hope to see you at a Hyundai A-League or Westfield W-League game over the summer.