Football Australia CEO James Johnson in Perth

James Johnson State Football Centre
Football Australia CEO James Johnson, third left, at the State Football Centre with, from left, Football West Manager - Female Football and Advocacy Sarah Du Plessis, Football West Chairman Sherif Andrawes, Football Australia Head of Member Federation Relations and Community Will Hastie, Football West Project Manager State Football Centre Andrew Firman and Football West CEO Jamie Harnwell

Football Australia CEO James Johnson has spoken about the importance of knocking down barriers between the top of the sport and the wider football community.

Mr Johnson and Football Australia Head of Member Federation Relations and Community Will Hastie have been in Perth this week, kicking off a series of scheduled visits to the Member Federations around Australia.

On Wednesday they met Football West staff before visiting Britannia Reserve and E&D Litis Stadium to watch training sessions involving Floreat Athena Juniors and MiniRoos and the Hyundai NTC girls. They then took in Perth Glory’s final game of the A-League Men’s season, where a Callum Timmins double gave the home side an unlikely 2-0 win over top-of-the-table Melbourne City.

Yesterday, the two men spoke with the Football West Board, as well as WA Sport and Recreation Minister David Templeman, before a trip to the State Football Centre site in Queens Park with Football West Chairman Sherif Andrawes and CEO Jamie Harnwell.

Their visit finished with a football summit at Dorrien Gardens with stakeholders from the WA football community.

Sherif Andrawes, James Johnson and Jamie Harnwell
Football West Chairman Sherif Andrawes, Football Australia CEO James Johnson and Football West CEO Jamie Harnwell

With borders across Australia now open, Mr Johnson said it was more important than ever for Football Australia to connect with the grassroots.

“The visit is part of a program we are rolling out across the country. As a strategy for the governing body in Australia, we are looking at creating more inroads and communications with the community,” he said.

“I think Football Australia in recent years has probably moved away from that. If we are going to evolve as a sport, our base is something that we have really got to tap in to.

“Our biggest strength is our national team brands and our community. It’s a big base and it’s about people.”

He added: “We are opening it up for the community to come in and talk to us about the challenges that exist at community level, which ultimately help us when we are implementing policy and strategy across the country. This gives us a better understanding of what the issues are on the ground. I’m sure there’ll be a lot of robust discussion, that’s what we want to create.

“We want to knock down the barriers, listen to what is important to the people we ultimately serve.”

James Johnson NTC
Football Australia CEO James Johnson, back row left, Football West CEO Jamie Harnwell, back row right, and members of the Hyundai NTC first team

Mr Johnson acknowledged that football in each State had individual issues which had to be considered as part of the bigger picture.

He said: “Football and the culture is very different across the country. I grew up in the country part of Queensland and it’s very different from Sydney, and Perth’s very different from Melbourne and Adelaide.

“We are working with our Member Federations to create a One Football strategy, but we have to find the right balance between what is uniform and what is specific between the different regions. Coming into the field, it helps us better understand that feel so we get it right.

“It’s been great to get out here. I enjoyed the (Glory) match, it was good to see a lot of young Australian players that have been developed through the different pathways in Western Australia play and beat the best team in the competition, and I’m sure there were players we will see in the youth and senior national teams in years to come.

“It’s exciting to come out to the State Football Centre, it’s going to be operational just before the Women’s World Cup. And to meet the Minister and really talk to him about what football can do for the community and what the State can do for football, particularly up to the Women’s World Cup.”

James Johnson Floreat
Football Australia Head of Member Federation Relations and Community Will Hastie, left, Football Australia CEO James Johnson and, back row right, Football West CEO Jamie Harnwell with one of the Floreat Athena Junior teams

Mr Harnwell said Mr Johnson’s visit was a real positive for football in Western Australia.

“It has been great to welcome James Johnson and Will Hastie to WA, and it was good that they were able to see first-hand just some of the good work that is taking place both in clubland and outside.

“Football West and Football Australia have a strong relationship but for our club presidents and other stakeholders to have direct access to the top man at Football Australia was important. They were able to share their thoughts and get immediate feedback, and we appreciate that so many people were keen to be involved in the summit.

“The State Football Centre is coming along nicely and it was exciting for James and Will to see it in progress.

“Football West would also like to thank the Minister for Sport and Recreation for his time, and with the Women’s World Cup just over a year away we look forward to working together very closely together.”

James Johnson Dorrien Gardens summit
James Johnson speaking at the community football summit at Dorrien Gardens

​Filed Under: Community News