Today the FFA unveiled the Harmony through Football program, a new initiative to celebrate football’s diversity and inclusivity. A great ‘initiative’ which hopefully will be followed through on, but one has to say it is a concern that it has taken them so long to become involved in such a program.
State body Football West has been running some programs which celebrate Football’s diversity for five years so why has the national body taken so long?
The FFA press release states ‘In 2013, FFA has a strategic plan to engage with multicultural communities, with a focus on Harmony Day, the official national celebration of cultural diversity.” Implying that previous to 2013 they had no such plan, which is quite worrying as this is the future of Australian football as new CEO David Gallop quite rightly went on to say.
“Football is the face of Australia and is a sport that truly reflects the cultural diversity of our nation, with 1.7 million participants, football is Australia’s most inclusive and accessible sport, one that bridges gender, age, linguistic, ethnic and religious divides. In 2012 the FFA undertook a cultural audit of the A-League which showed that 87% of players have an overseas ancestry and 68% have one or more parent born overseas, both well above the national average. Football’s broad fan base similarly reflects this diversity and our is aim to help foster this diversity through Harmony through Football program.”
State administrator in Western Australia, Football West, frequently cops criticism for some of the things that it does but when it comes to these types of program they have done an excellent job. Gordon Duus the man driving the programs has a passion for what he does and that is reflected in their success and how the culturally diverse communities embrace these programs. The Perth African Nations Cup has been around since 2008 but Football West became involved and helped lift its profile in 2010. Football with the Fuzz which is a joint venture between Football West and the WA Police has been in place since 2008. They also have the United Maylands Junior Football Club this is a program for young children aged between 5-18 from emerging communities to get them involved and playing football. The Africa Down Under Tournament which will be a Futsal competition is currently being planned.
We should be extremely proud of the work being done in this area by Football West and that they are several steps ahead of the national body in welcoming newcomers to this country through something they all know and understand, the world game of Football.
Finally, one has to hope that this is not just FFA rhetoric as we have witnessed in the past a commitment to develop the game in Indigenous communities for ten years abandoned after one year; many believe as a result of the World Cup bid failing. It was only the work and pressure applied by John Moriarty and Warren Mundine that saw this re-instated last year, but only after they went and secured sponsorship themselves. Time will tell how serious the FFA are about this ‘initiative,’ hopefully they will find someone with a real passion and desire to welcome all of these diverse people to our world of football, because if they do it may grow into a success similar story similar to the one at Football West.