NPL Grand Final more than a game

Even before the kick off the NPL Grand Final the match has already made its mark on Australian football.

Even before the kick off of the National Premier Leagues (NPL) Grand Final between South Hobart and Sydney United 58 FC in Hobart this Sunday, the fixture has already made its mark on Australian football.

The unheralded Tasmanian champions from Hobart versus the former national champions from the NSL era and perennial NSW powerhouse from football-s heartland in Sydney-s west.

What a contrast. It-s a fascinating football story, but it also shows that the NPL Grand Final is more than a game.

It-s a fine example of the different tiers of administration in Australian football working together to deliver the right outcomes.

The first-ever NPL finals series involved clubs from five States and Territories and is the culmination of three years of work on strategy and implementation of the National Competitions Review.

FFA and the Member Federations collaborated on the model for the National Premier Leagues, then it was up to each federation to customise the model to suit the circumstances in each state and territory.

In that process, the participating clubs had to embrace the changes inherent in the new model. All parties deserve praise for working together for the good of the game.

I said at the time that the introduction of the NPL model was a landmark in the development of Australian football. The crucial bodies in this reform of the semi-professional tier are the State and Territory Member Federations.

Their role in Australian football involves much of the heavy lifting. The organisation, education and regulation of the game-s 1.7 million participants is no easy task. It-s demanding and unrelenting and usually unheralded.

Football has many mouths to feed, but we don-t always have the resources we-d like. It-s here that the Member Federations do an outstanding job of accommodating a growing sport while living within their means.

From experience, I can say that governing bodies in any sport never win popularity contests. It-s a fact of life.

That-s why I want to hail the Member Federations for their work to keep football ticking around the clock, around Australia.

In relation to the NPL, the model for the semi-professional state-based competitions in Australian football is ambitious and progressive. We have national guidelines for the state and territory elite club competitions for the first time.

The key features of the NPL are;

• A common brand and logo • Qualified Technical Directors at each club • Consistent player pathways in each state and territory • Player Points System (PPS) to encourage youth development • Revised Compensation System to reward clubs producing A-League players • Improved finance and business planning under a club licensing scheme The semi-pro state league clubs have long been the engine room of Australia-s player development system and have always provided a local focus of football passion across the nation.

The NPL model gives the state-based competitions the status and organisational structure they deserve.

The phased national roll out of the NPL saw 70 clubs across Queensland, NSW, South Australia, ACT and Tasmania come on board this year. Other states will follow next year.

The NPL reform stands alongside many other achievements that are helping to build our game. The launch last month of the National Curriculum second edition and the national rollout via the Member Federations is another great example.

When South Hobart and Sydney United 58 take to the field at KGV this Sunday, the game will showcase all the important work happening. I wish both clubs well in the Grand Final and congratulate all those who have made the NPL a reality.