Last night I watched with interest Ben Buckley being interviewed by Simon Hill and Mark Bosnich on Fox Sports FC, and one can’t help feeling he has missed his vocation, as a politician. He dodged many of the questions adeptly yet rarely looked comfortable under the glare of the studio lights. He is a man who sadly never looks comfortable facing up to the media, and that is not good for the sport that he is representing, as it shows a flaw in his leadership and makes people question his passion for the game – which may well may in fact be there but is kept under wraps – and his knowledge of the game.
We asked for an interview with Mr Buckley on “Not The Footy Show” over a year ago. We were then asked to submit our questions so that ‘he could prepare.’ After three months of chasing this we were told that he does not do one-on one interviews. How can the CEO of a sport as big as football not do one on one interviews? Why is the CEO of a sport as big as football not prepared to do one on one interviews? We gave up pondering this a long time ago.
Hill and Bosnich were in difficult positions as the broadcast partner with the FFA, and with a charter that is aimed at promotion of the game, so while asking the questions most fans wanted answered they were loathe to follow up when he side-stepped them. One answer that beggared belief was him trying to justifying not paying out all of the former Queensland Fury contracts from last season, a decision that is bound to backfire as legal action is pending.
But that aside Fox Commentator and Sydney Morning Herald Journalist Mike Cockerill has written an excellent piece in the paper today. He states quite clearly that if the A League should fall over, football only has itself to blame, and he is right. The FFA may have its failings but the lethargy of the ‘football family’ is the game’s biggest problem.
Cockerill asks, “Hands up if you play football? There’s about 750,000of you out there. How many of you go to watch A league games? Not nearly enough of you.”
He encapsulates football’s problem, too many ‘quick to find fault but slow to provide a remedy.’
The game has a lot of good people wanting to be involved, and with expertise that would be useful, but they are sick of applying or volunteering after having doors slammed in their face by self-serving people with little passion for the game, people looking to use the game as a personal stepping stone.
There is concern amongst the football family about the future of the A League, which as Cockerill quite rightly states is ‘much better than the euro snobs, who include some of the FFA’s own coaching staff, care to admit.’
A sole appearance on Fox Sports for half an hour is not going to right the ship, we need a visible leader out there banging the drum and restoring confidence, whether it is Buckley or Lowy, the footballing public don’t care. We need a leader, a spokesman, a fighter for the cause, someone who will represent the game with professionalism, but at the same time show us their passion, this is not just at a national level but in each state. The game is a wonderful one, and we have a duty to protect its future.
It is time for the administrators to realise that the media are not raising these issues because they wish to cause trouble, they are raising them because they have their finger on the pulse of the public, and that pulse is quickening with anxiety.
Football needs your voice, and not just subscribing to Foxtel, or becoming a fan on facebook, it needs you at the games and showing that you support the game at all levels.