I was quite pleased when David Gallop was appointed as the new Football Federation Australia (FFA) CEO. Unlike Buckley, Gallop had already been on the top of a major football code in Australia. Therefore he knows the score, he knows about how to deal with the media and how to administer sport in Australia.
This is much more important than being a ‘football person’. I know that some fans feel that not having ‘one of us’ is a bit of an insult, that basically being from another code the CEO will never understand ‘the culture’. But unlike Buckley, who never experienced being at the top of leading a football code, Gallop is the best candidate that the FFA could ever had.
And I thought that his first media conference was fine. He projected the image of someone from outside, but with some knowledge of the game (Socceroos and West Bromwich Albion references) and willing to learn more. Raised grassroots issues and possible expansion. Except for one thing. :
“I can absolutely see a period of great growth and in that regard the other codes should be concerned about where football is placed at the moment,”
“They would be looking at the results of the last six weeks (of the A-League) and seeing that the Socceroos are now well on the road to qualification for the World Cup finals in Brazil and they would be concerned.”
“If football gets its act together, which we’re seeing right now, then the other codes need to be really worried about it”
“The giant continues to be not only awake, but on the move”
Ughh. The reference to football in Australia as the ‘Sleeping Giant’ is one of my most disliked terms, together with ‘Own Goal’ when something negative has happened in the code.
“While we accept that the creative bits have been somewhat numbed by decades of being forced to read rugby league scribblers, he could have come out with something better that ‘soccer is the sleeping giant in this country, and you all have to watch out when it gets its act together’. Blue Hills was still around episode two when that was first said”
Do football people talk about the Sleeping Giant anymore? Did it exist in the first place? I doubt it. If a very successful 2006 World Cup campaign and a less successful one in 2010 (which we did make nevertheless) plus a reasonably run national league hasn’t woken up this Giant, then nothing will.
Also the fact that Gallop says ‘when football gets it act together’. Hasn’t it done it already? Of course there are huge problems confronting the code, especially in the A-League and the sustainability of teams etc. But really with the Crawford report, the A-League, the admission into the Asian Confederation and being able to have a good chance to qualify for a world cup I think that is the best we can hope in the sense of ‘getting our act together’. Of course there are issues, but that is part and parcel of running a business in a very competitive environment in a relatively small market.
Football is not going to overtake the AFL and probably the NRL anytime soon. And that’s fine. There is no need to feel like we need to become the main game unless we have to compensate for some form of inferiority complex. Saying ‘other codes watch out’ is setting us up for failure.
Instead to go after the other codes what the FFA should do is to create and develop our niche and play to our strengths. We saw a great example with Western Sydney, where the FFA listened to the fans and created a team that I think will do well in an area which was always football literate. This is an example where football can be and is more successful than other codes. If we want to talk about ‘Giants’ we can look at the Western Sydney ones that unlike the Wanderers aren’t exactly setting the place on fire.
So all the best Mr. Gallop. Don’t worry about other codes. Let’s ensure we are doing alright.