FOOTBALL SOUTH COAST – “THE UNIFICATION JOURNEY”
Football South Coast was incorporated in 2008 and is the outcome of a long and fruitful unification process, commencing as far back as 2006, when the CEO of Football NSW met with key administrators in the South Coast region to lay out a path for the unification of the various bodies involved in the administration of football in the South Coast region.
Historically, while our region has had a strong and proud football pedigree, progress, funding, and infrastructure development have been hampered by the fragmentation of administration across numerous small bodies, none of which have the critical mass to really enable the game to move forward in the way its participation numbers suggest that it should.
In 2007, a unification committee was formed, comprising representatives of the 9 key football organisations in the South Coast at that time – the Illawarra Football Association (IFA), Illawarra Junior Football Association (IJFA), Illawarra Amateur Football Association (IAFA), Wollongong Wolves (now South Coast Wolves), Futsal, the A-League bid team, Illawarra Women’s Football Association (IWFA), the Illawarra Stingrays and the Referee’s Association. Eddy de Gabriele was selected to act as Chairman of the unification committee. FNSW was also represented through the GM, Ian Holmes.
The first key milestone was the signing of the memorandum of understanding in November 2007, committing the various parties to a unified structure under the banner of one governing body. The unification committee met regularly to set out the guiding principles for the operation of the newly unified structure, and these principles were recorded in a document referred to as the “Blueprint”, which was agreed to in September 2008, and amended in May 2009.
That blueprint included provision for the abolition of the existing incorporated associations (IJFA, IAFA, IWFA and IFA) in favour of the establishment of four football councils – Men, Women, Juniors, and Futsal under the control of a unified governing body. It also provided for the establishment of the company which would be the peak, unified body, and the company formed to affect this purpose was named Football South Coast Limited. The blueprint allows for the Board of FSC to have nine directors – one elected by each Council, and four plus a Chair appointed by FNSW. There were also three specialist advisors to assist with Finance, FFA/A-League liaison and the IFRA. Profiles of all directors & advisors can be found in ‘About Us’ on this site.
On 1 January 2010 Football South Coast Limited became the peak affiliated body with Football NSW, responsible for the conduct and administration of football in the Illawarra region. For the transitional 2010 season, the administration was mostly conducted through the existing associations, but by 2011 Football South Coast assumed full control of the administration through the Men’s, Women’s, and Juniors Councils.
Questions & Answers
1. What is Unification and why was it necessary?
Football Unification was the merger of the various football associations in the Illawarra Region into one new football governing association. This change arose from a desire by the local football community to put in place a more effective administration for the game in this region and is in line with Football NSW’s (FNSW) desire for unification to be a priority.
The unification process covered the football area known by FNSW as the “Illawarra Football Zone”, which stretches between Helensburgh in the north, the northern side of the Shoalhaven River in the south, and out west to the Southern Highlands. It was a process to bring all FNSW affiliated Football Bodies and Associations, including the Juniors, the Men’s, the Women’s, and the Futsal Football streams under the one Governing body, called Football South Coast.
The key reason for undergoing the unification process was to take away the fragmentation of the game. By having one governing body and one voice, it is expected that Football can make some real progress. This new body is in a better position to liaise with Government and Council around infrastructure, grants, and general funding for the game. The new unified structure is a better entity from which to approach corporate sponsors. The structure should also allow for a more economically efficient way of running Football on the South Coast.
Football Unification in the Illawarra was put in motion in August 2007 through a specially convened FNSW approved, Illawarra Zone Football Unification Committee (IZUC) representing all the streams of Football in the Illawarra, including IFA, IJFA, IAFA, ISRA, IWFA, A-League Group (SCFC Ltd), Futsal, Stingrays, and the Wolves. The IZUC met monthly from August 2007 to December 2009 to structure and create a new Unified Association as per an agreed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for this Region. The IZUC developed a blueprint which set out the principles under which the newly unified body will operate.
The IZUC held its final meeting in December 2009 and handed over responsibility for unification to the Board of Football South Coast Limited (see below).
2. What is the new structure?
A new governing entity called Football South Coast Limited (“FSC”) has been incorporated. This is now the peak body for football in the Illawarra region, and is affiliated with FNSW, and of course through FNSW with FFA & FIFA. It is a company limited by guarantee, registered under ASIC, and has its own Constitution, By-laws, and Board of Directors.
One of the first acts of FSC has been to implement by-laws which establish what are to be known as the Football Councils. There are four main Councils – Men’s (comprising the former IFA and IAFA), Women’s (comprising the former IWFA), Juniors (the former IJFA). Representative and Development Council (comprising of members of SCW, Stingrays and Taipans) and Referees (former IFRA).
Each Council is tasked with the operation of their various stream of football. Each Council must also elect one person to be their representative on the Board of FSC – making five elected directors in total.
There are a further five directors (including the Chairman) who have been appointed by FNSW through a rigorous selection process. The appointed Directors are people that have applied from within the community through a publicly advertised expression of interest. They are considered to be independent directors and have particular skill sets that will be able to take the organisation and thus Football forward into the future.
3. Has all of Football on the South Coast signed off on the new model?
4. What are some of the other practical outcomes of the new structure?
Football South Coast (FSC) is the official & accredited Governing body by FNSW & FFA for all Football on the South Coast (other than various pub and church leagues) and is headquartered at the new commercial offices at the south end of the Fraternity Club in Fairy Meadow.
There will be little or no change to the various streams of football with respect to the running of their competitions, other than FSC will strive to provide greater co-ordination of special events to maximise publicity and crowd numbers.
From 2011 all registrations will be collected and administered by FSC. The Board is also working on putting in place a uniform disciplinary system and General-Purpose Tribunal. From a match day point of view, the players and parents will notice little or no change in this transition period, but there will certainly be improvements in the future!