Friday, September 19, 2014

David "Barack Obama" Gallop's State of the Game (Union) Address

David Gallop has been administrating Australian football this week like a Boss! Earlier in the week David "Keats" Gallop penned a letter to Australian football fans extolling the beauty  of football as he kicked off the promotion for the tenth season of the A League.

Later in the week David "Barack Obama" Gallop delivered a very presidential like speech on his state of the game address extolling the vision of Australia's football future

David "Keats" Gallop 

"Football is often referred to as ‘The Beautiful Game’. But what is beautiful?" asked Australia's John Keats. If you don't know who John Keats is you seriously need to step up your romantic game. His opening few lines of his famous 1818 poem Endymion should be remembered by anyone wishing to win the heart of that special someone. It's never worked for me but give it a go anyway you might get points for trying.

"A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:
Its lovliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing"

Beauty as they say is in the eye of the beer holder and if you look at the promotional videos that come with Gallop's love letter you will see how various  icons of Australian football define the Beautiful Game. One such icon  is ex Socceroos and Fox Sports regular Robbie Slater. His version of football beauty is nicking the ball, halting play, and giving shit to various former Socceroos teammates like Craig Foster and Harry Kewell. Link here:

Some of the Slater's recent clashes on Twitter and on Fox Sports have been a thing of beauty for me.

What isn't a thing of beauty is seeing the Socceroos slide down the FIFA rankings to 84.Now ranked ninth in Asia and down to historic lows after being as high as 19th in the world in September 2001. It's a pity FIFA don't rate brave losses or losses that still feel like a victory. After the Holland game at the World Cup in Brazil the Socceroos would've been in the Top 10 if the ranking system was changed to the bravery index!

The Socceroos have to start playing teams ranked in the mid 20's and 30's. We keep on trying to pick up the hottest chick at the dance! Sure trying to land the hottest chick at the dance  is good practice for when you meet the lesser teams but soon the lesser teams will see you in action and know how you play the game.(that was probably sexist and I may have mixed my metaphors or something but you know what I'm trying to say)

David "Barack Obama" Gallop 

Back to David Gallop's State of the Game (Union) speech. Even Rugby League botherer Roy Masters in today's SMH wrote that the ex NRL man looked very "Pres" during his speech.

"There was something presidential about FFA chief executive David Gallop's "State of the Game" address in Sydney on Thursday, a US-style declaration of national goals achieved and those still to be kicked," wrote Masters in the opening paragraph of his article.

Read more:

It was interesting getting Masters' take on the speech particularly the last line in Masters' article: "Your sport has joined the big boys now David. Time to dig your own gold." 

Here Masters was referring to how Gallop plans to fund his National Plan for Australian football, a plan that Gallop says will:

"Set us on our way to making football the biggest and most popular game in Australia."

In Gallop's words: "we have many mouths to feed, but rarely do we have enough to go around"

Australian football will need cashiola if it plans to fund Gallop's National Plan. Most likely Government cash, and Masters in his article is moaning about how Australian football plans to feed those mouths:
"How much money will Gallop extract from government for this purpose?"

Frank Lowy got 25 million from the Australian Sports Commission  in 2003 to meet the recommendation of the Crawford report and reform Australian football.

How much money could Gallop get to fund his National Plan? 

Don't forget the AFL has literally received hundreds of millions of dollars over the years. 

Here is a quote by Jeff Kenett on that subject during an interview he gave to ABC last year:

"Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent by us through political manoeuvring under Demetriou's baton, while the AFL has committed so little cash. It's a remarkable achievement."

Below is the speech where Gallop outlined the key questions facing Australian football if it wants to be number one baby! 

* In elite player and coach development, I have no doubt we need to overhaul the way we do things. Do we want to see others in Asia setting the standards, or do we want to be the leader?

* For our national teams, qualifying for World Cups is fantastic, but do we want to be a contender and challenge the elite nations?

* Community football is currently a strength in the participation base and our collaboration with our Member Federations. But is it enough to have a model primarily based on clubs and outdoor football when so many people want to play indoor, at schools or just for fun in parks?

* Facilities are at the heart of our game, but how can we thrive as a sport when the space to play remains a critical shortage?

* Our national competitions, the Hyundai A-League, Westfield W-League, PS4 NPL and Westfield FFA Cup provide us with a 12-month of the year calendar, but structures, connections and expansion are big questions for our future.

* Fan Engagement is the life-blood of everything we do, whether it's in the community, with our major brands or through the many channels where you find football content. But we need to stay ahead of the trend in this digital world if the football family is to remain strong.

* Commercial revenues are the dividends of a successful sport, but we know we need to do a better job telling corporate Australia about the massive potential if we are to have the resources to deliver on the game's promise.

* And our governance structures need to be aligned, efficient and ready for the challenge. Every stakeholder needs to know their role and have the trust in others, and that's the starting point of our ambitious thinking.

So basically, coaching, qualifying, participating, facilitating, competing, fan engaging, making (asking for money) money and governing it all.

It's a  plan that will take decades said Gallop to Tom Smithies of the Daily Telegraph:

TS: You’ve talked again about being the No 1 sport – in what time frame, and do you not run the risk of alienating fans of other sports?
DG: In a strict participation sense, we are already the biggest sport. We have to convert those participants to fans of the national team and A-League and W-League teams. We’ve always said it will take decades, it’s not an overnight exercise. But we should be ambitious about the game’s future.
For me I'd love to see investment in: elite player and coach development, we should build centres of excellence around the states, use the experience of our golden generation to coach the next gen and the next gen after that. Each A-League club should have academies that allows a player to develop in the clubs system from the grassroots to the senior team

Expansion of the A-League to more teams, and one day hopefully that includes a pathway for the National Premier League teams to the A-League via promotion and relegation through the National Premier League final series. 

Yes it will take time, watching the FFA Cup the difference between the second tier and first tier of Australian football is huge. Not talent wise but structurally and also the question remains with the FFA launching the National Club Identity Policy is old football part of that future?

More will be revealed after the Asian Cup as Gallop said in his speech via an online portal that will capture the voice of the people. 

My glass half full goggles say let's do it! Together we can make a difference! Gallop's State of the Game Speech could be an agent of real change.

With the Asian Cup on the horizon the cynic in me hopes the National Plan is not just a big distraction dreamed up by the suits at the FFA to make us look away from the latest FIFA rankings.

The Socceroos are now ranked just one spot above Cyprus, a country that's been divided since 1974 and that has a population of just over one million people. Australia is also ranked below countries like Benin, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo a country that's been ravaged by an ongoing civil war. 

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