Australia is perfectly positioned to lead the way in building relationships across Asia, both on and off the pitch.
That is the view of Stuart Crockett, who joins Football West to drive its Asian Engagement Strategy.
Mr Crockett has extensive experience working in Asia, in the private and public sectors. He returned to Perth this year having worked as the WA Government’s Commissioner to China. Based in Shanghai, where Football West has a Memorandum of Understanding with the Shanghai FA, he was responsible for managing all of WA’s international trade, investment and cultural exchange activities with China.
As Strategic Counsel for Football West, Mr Crockett is committed to helping Football West open new doors across the football-mad continent.
“What we are looking at doing is expanding Football West’s international engagement … international engagement can bring benefits culturally and economically and we want positive relationships with our Asian neighbours,” he said.
“Everybody knows how big football is in Asia and that is something we in WA can use to build really strong relations.
“We are in a fantastic position geographically – same time zone, great airlines, great facilities. We have around 250,000 people playing football, which means great community engagement.
“And the opening of the State Football Centre in 2023 and Perth hosting matches at the Women’s World Cup in the same year will be massive. That brings in the touring teams, exchange visits, the swapping of ideas … there are obvious economic benefits for all of football in WA. And people in Asia are interested in why Australia does so well and punches above its weight in sport.”
The Covid-19 pandemic might have stopped nearly all travel to Asia but Mr Crockett said that cannot be an excuse to stop engagement.
“Obviously there’s Zoom,” he said. “But we can also build contacts with the Asian communities in Perth and in WA and building these relationships from the ground up. It’s people to people then business to business.
“Football is young people playing together and making lifelong friendships. From that, there are no boundaries.
“As the Strategic Counsel International for Football West, I’m here to help create strategy and deliver it. That is why you need to build contacts, communicate best and communicate regularly.”
Football West CEO James Curtis said the addition of Mr Crockett to the organisation was a major coup.
“It is fantastic to welcome Stuart to Football West and he will be an invaluable asset going forward as we look to develop Football West’s Asian Engagement Strategy,” Mr Curtis said.
“We know from Football West’s many visits to Asia with the Gold Fields State teams and on other trips that they see us as a State which wants to build positive and mutually beneficial relations through football. Having a man of Stuart’s experience and expertise is only going to strengthen that view.
“We also have a lot of experience of welcoming touring parties from Asia. The Indonesia men’s national team and the Singapore men’s national Under 22s have used Perth for training camps and games in recent years, while others such as the Persebaya Under 19s side came for a week-long tour in 2018.
“These were great successes and the feedback we received was unanimous – they praised the way they were accommodated, and the professional and courteous work of the Football West staff. All said they were eager to return.
“So our aim is simple, to provide more opportunities for players, coaches, referees and clubs, and develop economic and cultural ties that bring increased investment for the local football community.”