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Can football become number one?

It is now time for the FFA to look to the future for our national squad. (Image: Paul Barkley/LookPro)
Roar Guru
12th November, 2013
256
2989 Reads

David Gallop not only believes football can be number one, but is intent on making it happen.

With a year having passed since Gallop assumed the rule of Football Federation Australia chief executive, a list of the achievements were complied to highlight the continual growth and development of the game.

Football’s stellar achievements, November 2012 – November 2013:

* New $160 million, four-year broadcast deal.
* Free-to-air TV coverage of A-League for the first time.
* Record crowds, TV ratings and digital audiences for the A-League.
* The phenomenon of the Western Sydney Wanderers.
* Qualification for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
* Sold out Manchester United and Liverpool tours.
* The inauguration of the All Stars concept.
* Establishment of new Community Football department within FFA.
* Second edition of the National Curriculum.
* Launch of the National Premier Leagues.
* Confirmation of FFA Cup for 2014.
* Retention of status as the no. 1 team sport played by Australians.
* Renewal of free-to-air coverage of the W-League.

Not only has the past 12 months been a successful time for Australian football, but in the past three seasons alone we have witnessed achievement after achievement which in turn has started a snowball-like-effect that continues to demolish everything in its path.

Most inside and out of the football circles will tell you one of two things with regard to football becoming Australia’s number one sport:

“It’ll never happen…” with a long tirade of reasons as to why, whether logical or illogical they may seem.

On the other hand you have those who also believe almost as incessantly as the late Johnny Warren, that with hard work, time and patience, anything is possible.

Its fairly easy to differentiate the insiders from the outsiders. It would seem there is an ‘us versus them’ mentality – with ‘us’ being football supporters and ‘them’ being anyone else.

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Opinion aside, the past few years makes for a compelling argument as to why football can potentially become number one.

Yesterday it was also announced participation rates for football had increased to 1.96 million, a 13% increase on the previous survey in 2010, which had 1.7 million.

“The survey result confirms that football retains its status as the no. 1 team participation sport in Australia,” said Gallop.

Gallop went further to state his belief as to why participation rates are so high.

“The game’s simple beauty and reliance on skill rather than collisions makes it a natural choice for so many people in so many places.

“It’s the popular game for boys, girls, old and young, who are playing outdoor, indoor, in parks and fields and in clubs and schools.

“Football is flourishing across the Australian community and we’re delighted.”

Now I too believe football can become number one, but the sport itself hasn’t gone without its failures.

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The now-defunct National Soccer League, which ran from 1977 to 2004, failed to connect with the Australian public and had surrounding issues of ethnic battles, hooliganism and I’m sure some would allude to aspects of corruption.

But that was then, and this is now. No sport in Australia is currently developing at a faster rate than football.

The sport has the world at its doorstep and as the years go by the likes of Alessandro Del Piero will continue to come to Australia, but at a younger age and with more to offer than just a name.

Major League Soccer is a classic example to follow and if we are to make some sort of conclusion as to how we are going, looking to America is a good start.

The key difference between the A-League and MLS is the amount of exposure we are receiving in the media.

The MLS continues to struggle to break into mainstream media and yet the success that continues to follow it defies belief.

Football at times may receive poor treatment by our own media, but times have changed and they can no longer ignore us.

You’ll now find news updates via the news, radio and papers.

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Social media and online are not a problem and football in Australia has a powerful stronghold via both these platforms.

Within the past few days I conducted a survey seeking the opinions of others as to how Australian football is perceived.

With over 500 people having already responded and numbers continuing to build, I wasn’t surprised by some of the results.

• 80.6% still believe mainstream media are not treating Australian football fairly.
• An amazing but not surprising 95.52% rely on online media for their football news.
• 76.12% agreed with this statement, “Football is now one of the three major sports in Australia. The other two are Aussie Rules and rugby league.”
• 17.91% have been made to feel uncomfortable at a football match, while 44.78% have been made to feel uncomfortable at other sports.
• 12.12% believe there is a problem with hooliganism in Australian football.

Of the 500+ surveyed, 21.88% are from Queensland, 26.56% Victoria, 37.50% NSW, 7.81% South Australia and 4.69% from Western Australia.

In my first survey I also asked ‘Why do you support the A-League?’ This allowed you to answer multiple choices:

• Love of football/team 88.3%.
• Atmosphere 52.13%.
• Quality of football 30.85%.
• Social outing 36.17.
• World-class players i.e. Alessandro Del Piero 15.96%.

All of these reasons and factors go without mentioning the A-League’s continual growth in the stands, as our other major sporting codes struggle to continue a successful trend of growing support.

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The facts are there, and everything is falling into place for football to continue its rise to becoming number one.

As Johnny Warren would say, “I told you so.”