Northern NSW Football (NNSWF) is now directly responsible for the administration, growth, development and promotion of the game throughout the Northern Inland region following last night’s final meeting of Northern Inland Football (NIF) Incorporated.
Representatives from NNSWF, Football Australia, Newcastle Jets and Northern Inland Academy of Sport (NIAS) were on hand as Member Clubs formally approved the NIF Board’s motion to wind up NIF Inc and establish a new, unincorporated body in its place.
Mr Eland said Northern NSW Football and Football Australia were committed to realigning the game in the Northern Inland region.
“It’s our obligation. We are responsible for football across northern NSW, including the Northern Inland. It is not the role or responsibility of any independent entity,” Mr Eland said.
“It is NNSWF and Football Australia’s responsibility to lead a united, sustainable and inclusive sport which has the capacity to thrive and build clubs which form the foundations of their communities.
“NNSWF look forward to working directly with clubs and stakeholders towards the goal of unifying the region’s largest club-based sport.”
Representatives from NNSWF, Football Australia, NIAS and Newcastle Jets are in Armidale today to launch a range of programs that will provide the community with opportunities to participate in sanctioned football activities aligned to the game in Northern Inland, northern NSW and Australia.
These include a new, centralised MiniRoos hub at Presbyterian Ladies’ College, Armidale and an exciting partnership with the Northern Inland Academy of Sport which will deliver Player Development Programs aligned to the NNSWF Talented Player Pathway across the New England and North West regions in Tamworth, Gunnedah, Inverell and Armidale.
NNSWF will also appoint a MiniRoos Development Officer in the Northern Inland to promote the game and assist volunteer coaches, while a MiniRoos Coaching Certificate and Game Leader Course are also scheduled.
NIF Competitions Administrator Toby McVey will remain onboard as NNSWF’s Northern Inland Regional Coordinator.
Mr Eland thanked NIF’s volunteer Board of Directors, led by Chairman Phil Davis, for their commitment to the game and reiterated that the door was not closed on those disaffiliated clubs.
“I again extend an invitation to those disaffiliated clubs to affiliate with the new unincorporated body and reunite our great game,” Mr Eland said.
“But we can’t and won’t just sit on our hands. We are determined to hit the ground running and tangibly demonstrate our commitment to grow, develop and promote the game. And we will continue to communicate respectfully with disaffiliated clubs.
“The establishment of the sanctioned MiniRoos hub in Armidale and the complementary activities for coaches, game leaders and parents are a tangible demonstration of our commitment to the game and the region.”
Mr Eland said NNSWF were committed to engaging with schools and the community to deliver fun and safe football activities which were connected to the nation’s largest club-based sport and that it was important that local players had the opportunity to engage with the broader football family.
“We are determined to welcome clubs from Armidale and surrounding towns back into the FFA Cup and Women’s State Cup. There are also opportunities for junior teams to compete in NNSWF’s Champion of Champions and represent their region in State Championships. Such opportunities are not available to unaffiliated clubs,” Mr Eland said.
“But we won’t stand back and lose further momentum. NNSWF and Football Australia are committed to realigning the game throughout Northern Inland ensuring local junior players, particularly girls, have access to quality football programs which are aligned to the game throughout Australia.
“Tamworth and surrounding regions will continue with traditional club-based football while we introduce our new, centralised MiniRoos hub at Presbyterian Ladies’ College (PLC) and other local venues in Armidale for boys and girls from Kindergarten through to Year 6.
“The MiniRoos hub complements our partnership with NIAS to deliver player development programs aligned to the NNSWF Talented Player Pathway across the New England and North West regions.
“And NNSWF and the Jets are committed to working with NIAS to identify and develop the next Gema Simon who has represented her region and nation at the FIFA Women’s World Cup.”
Mr Eland said NNSWF were extremely pleased that McVey, NIF’s Competitions Administrator, had agreed to remain onboard as NNSWF’s Northern Inland Regional Coordinator.
“Toby will work alongside club volunteers to deliver outstanding competitions and to ensure that clubs have access to programs and services provided by the governing bodies which empower clubs to provide fun, safe and enjoyable football experiences.” Mr Eland said.
“The last 12 months have been difficult for the game, particularly in Armidale with a number of clubs having disaffiliated and entered local, unsanctioned competitions run by University of New England (SportUNE).
“NNSWF has dedicated significant time over the last 12 months to respectfully communicating with disaffiliated clubs regarding NIF’s impending winding up through the Armidale District Football Association and the administrators of the unsanctioned competitions.
“We also continued to provide the clubs with vital COVID-19 updates and access to our COVID-19 Safety Plan and other collateral which assisted volunteers to navigate through the pandemic and keep everyone as safe as possible.
“But NNSWF and Football Australia have an obligation to grow, develop and promote the game and today’s announcement is reflective of our commitment to ensure our great game thrives in Armidale and surrounding towns. “
Registrations are open now for Season 2021!
To find out where you can play in 2021 and to register visit www.northerninlandfootball.com.au
NIF inform NNSWF that some Armidale-based clubs planned to disaffiliate and transition to an independent competition run by the University of New England (SportUNE).
In response, NNSWF established a working group and implemented a forum in Armidale on 11 February to provide clubs with an opportunity to voice their concerns and reinforce the benefits of affiliation and alignment to Football Australia/NNSWF.
Despite NNSWF’s best efforts, it was clear that the Armidale-based clubs were committed to following through with disaffiliation.
NNSWF continued to communicate respectfully with disaffiliated clubs primarily through UNE’s competition administrators. Clubs were encouraged to use NNSWF’s COVID-19 Safety Plan and other collateral as NNSWF worked hard to remain transparent and keep communication open.
Disaffiliated clubs were kept informed regarding the proposed winding up of NIF Inc. and NNSWF’s intention to take direct control and responsibility for the game throughout the Northern Inland. This consultation included a Zoom meeting with disaffiliated clubs on 12 October, with disaffiliated clubs invited to be involved in the establishment of the proposed unincorporated body and underpinning service agreement.
Despite NNSWF’s proactive response, University of New England’s competition administrator informed NNSWF CEO David Eland on 17 December that the clubs would continue participating in unsanctioned competitions administered by UNE and had no interest in affiliating with the proposed unincorporated association.
The remaining members of NIF Inc. formally approved the wind up of the organisation on Thursday night, with NNSWF subsequently charged with the responsibility of directly administering the game in the Northern Inland.