Home Sweet Home?

by Ashley Morrison on Aug 10, 2011

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This last week saw state body Football West on page three of the West Australian and for all the wrong reasons. The state body had become embroiled in a row over the venue of a tribunal hearing.

Noranda Wolves player Hanan Anwan had been sent off for violent conducting a Division One State Women’s match against Cockburn City. Ms Anwan was sent off for shoving the Cockburn goalkeeper after it was alleged her headscarf had been pulled. Ms Anwan is an Australian born Muslim, and plays with a headscarf.

Football West had imposed a second game suspension for “Violent Conduct” to go with her automatic one match suspension for a red card.

The problem arose when Football West decided to hold the tribunal hearing in a pub, the Inglewood Hotel.

Both Ms Anwan and her club felt that to hold the hearing in a venue selling alcohol, showed great insensitivity to her religious beliefs and was inappropriate.

The situation was not helped by the response from Football West General Manager of Competitions and Operations Keith Wood, who allegedly sent an email stating “We understand your point but we live in a country and society in which the consumption of alcohol is permitted and part of Australian culture.”

There was no doubt that this situation sullied the game of football, and media outlets whose priority is to promote AFL leapt at the chance to sink the boot into football.

What was most disturbing to many fans of the game was the realisation that despite the creation of the Football Federation Australia, and new state bodies with new names and constitutions, the game has in fact not moved forward in the past decade.

Mr Wood’s comments are misguided and show a lack of understanding, and quite how he could feel that writing such comments would help the situation in the modern day makes one question the appropriateness of him holding such a position. In one fell swoop he virtually undid all of the good work his co-workers have done with their CaLD (Culturally and Linguistically Diverse) program. This program is for refugees and the like, using football to help them assimilate and settle into a new life in a new country, and it’s been a shining light since the creation of Football West.

The biggest concern is the fact that football is still holding tribunal hearings in a pub, many believing that those days had long gone. The question is why is this still the case?

The reason is simple, Football West’s offices are based in the changing rooms of a club house on a municipal reserve. The rent is in the region of $6,000 a year, and in simple terms, they cannot afford to be based anywhere else. There is a boardroom in the building, it is small, and has an oversize table in it, and should be suitable for such hearings.

What is a concern is that basketball and Rugby Union have brand new buildings from which their games are run. Netball has proper office space as do many other sports, so why is football still based in a makeshift office?

The board of Football West have for the past three years promised the game a new home, even claiming that they will team up with Perth Glory; a move I personally do not agree with as long as the A-League club is privately owned.

They seconded former Minister of Sport Bob Kucera to the board to oversee the search for a home for the game, and to use his political contacts and influence; the board have since made him Chairman of Football West, yet so far the game has only seen proposals that risk failing.

First there was a glamorous new facility at the home of State League side Floreat Athena, but that was dependent on Australia wining the World Cup bid. Then there was the shared facilities that were going to be built for Perth Glory at either the University of Western Australia or more recently Curtin University. The new idea is for the government to allocate them office space in the redevelopment of NIB Stadium.
As these plans fall away one by one, the people involved in the game are wondering why there is never a back-up plan, a second option — should the original idea fall through, and why is this taking so long?
This week the need for the game to have a permanent home became all the more apparent, but the big question is do the board or the FFA care? How many more incidents such as this will it take before positive action is taken?