13 February 2019

Canberra clubs rally to fix 'dysfunctional and fractured' football environment

| Lachlan Roberts
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All NPL1 clubs attended the meeting, including representatives from Canberra FC and Canberra Olympic. Photo: Supplied.

Canberra football clubs have come together to address the “dysfunctional and fractured” environment prevalent in Capital Football, saying a lack of transparency and communication from the governing body is hampering the sport’s growth.

Over 20 ACT football clubs, including clubs from NPL1, NPL2, NPLY, community and junior clubs, along with referee representatives met on Monday night (11 February) to form the Congress of Canberra Football Clubs.

The congress met to discuss the state of football in Canberra and to share their concerns about Capital Football, saying the governing body’s lack of consultation and pro-action is “hampering positive football outcomes”.

Capital Football had a tumultuous 2018, with refereeing abuse plaguing local competitions and concerns around the new relegation and promotion system. Clubs believe their concerns and grievances have fallen on deaf ears, with many club officials accusing the governing body of sweeping issues under the rug and ignoring the problem.

Woden-Weston Wanderers president and congress convenor Steve Rohan-Jones said clubs are frustrated with Football’s dysfunction and fractured environment and is calling for Capital Football to start listening to its clubs, be more transparent and start collaborating with its members.

“I have spoken to heaps of people across Canberra involved in football and listened to their concerns,” he said. “What we need is leadership that addresses a collaborative and engaged approach, we need openness and transparency, and we need better communication from Capital Football.

“We can’t even get the minutes of Capital Football board meetings, to see which directors have voted which way. If the Reserve Bank of Australia can publish minutes the day after a board meeting then surely Capital Football can do the same.”

Rohan-Jones said the strong turnout to the first meeting showed just how concerned clubs are.

“On top of the 20 plus clubs that attended, we had a number of clubs who took the time to write to us to say they couldn’t make it,” he shared. “I was really thrilled that Riverina Rhinos, who are four hours away, saw how important the meeting was and arranged a representative to attend the meeting.

“Capital Football has a fair proportion of their constituency saying that something is broken and this is how they intend to fix it. We want them to come along for the journey.”

ACT representative of the Association of Australian Football Clubs and former Tuggeranong United president Jon Thiele attended the meeting and said the key message that needed to be sent to Capital Football was for them to start listening.

“Capital Football is there to serve people and its clubs. They don’t need to agree with us on everything but they need to stop giving us lip service and start listening to Canberra clubs,” he told Region Media.

“There is close to 100 years of experience in each club for Capital Football to tap into and listen to, which they aren’t doing.”

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