The World Game perfect platform for Australia’s international engagement

Football Federation Australia (FFA) has wrapped up a week of Asian football diplomacy with a match between the Westfield Young Matildas and the Thailand U19 Women’s National team at Sydney’s Leichardt Oval which saw the hosts run out 2-1 winners.

FFA organised a range football and sports administration activities in partnership with the Australian Government, Department of Prime Minister & Cabinet and the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade as part of the 2018 ‘Australia ASEAN’ Week.

ASEAN Australia Week is a program of academic, educational, sporting and cultural events delivered by a range of non-government organisations, which highlight the depth and diversity of links between Australia and South-East Asia.

With football Asia’s number one sport, FFA is the perfect partner for the Australian Government.

FFA has been a member of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) for over 10 years. In addition, FFA is a member of and the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) and plays an active role in developing the sport in the region.   Earlier this week, FFA hosted its second AFF Council Meeting in Sydney.

Australia also regularly plays Asian teams at a national and club level including the AFC Asian Cup for women and men and the Asian Champions League. 

In 2017, Australian National Teams – the Caltex Socceroos, Westfield Matildas, the Pararoos and a number of Australian youth teams – played matches against 28 Nations in 12 different countries. Countries that hosted Australian teams for competitions included the U.S., China, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Iran and Russia.

In addition, three Hyundai A-League clubs participated in the AFC Champions League in a total of eighteen matches across Australia, Japan, China, South Korea and Thailand.

There are currently over 200 Australian players playing in professional or semi-professional leagues in over 40 countries across the globe.

Of Australia’s top 10 two-way trading partners, football matches were played against or in 7 of those countries. Australian teams have in the last year visited economic powerhouse cities like Shanghai, Seoul, Tokyo and Guangzhou.

FFA also conducts a number of programs abroad each year due to its involvement in the Australian Government’s Sports Diplomacy Strategy.

FFA’s Head of Corporate Strategy, International & Government Relations Mark Falvo said: “FFA has long played a role in fostering positive international relations for many years now. Football is the most popular sport in the world and the biggest participation sport in Australia.  For this reason, nothing can serve as a mutual point of understanding and shared passion quite like football can. We will continue to work with the Australian Government to promote our country and make a contribution to football in the region.” 

Young Matildas Thailand

FFA’s ASEAN Women’s Development Workshops have been ongoing since 2016, and have seen 17 female administrators from nine ASEAN countries participate in a program designed to accelerate women’s football in the South-East Asia region.

The Just Play sport for development program, conducted in partnership with the Oceania Football Confederation, covers seven different countries in the Pacific and India in Asia.  Since 2009, the program has seen 251,850 children learn about hygiene and sanitation, gender equality, disability inclusion and how to respond in a safe way following natural disasters, all through football.  Almost half of the participants are girls, and 4,338 teachers and volunteers have been trained to conduct the program.

FFA continues to offer support to Australian diplomatic posts abroad through events and initiatives coinciding with the movements of our Australian national teams. For example, in 2017, FFA partnered with Australian diplomats to conduct a school visit and clinic for young children at schools in Japan and Myanmar, and invited young girls who are wards of the state to spend a day in camp with the Westfield Matildas.

Every two to three weeks, staff from FFA travel to countries in Asia, ranging from countries like Uzbekistan to Myanmar on assignments from the Asian Football Confederation, assisting their Member Associations and clubs with the delivery of match fixtures, ensuring stadium security, or offering consultancy assistance.

In addition to the ‘ASEAN Australia’ Week, FFA has also been involved in partnerships with the Australian Government, chiefly the Australia – German Advisory Group and supporting the MIKTA (Mexico, Indonesia, Korea Republic, Turkey & Australia) Partnership with sport for development program with expertise and community activations for migrant groups.