The FFA has enlisted an all-star collection of some of Australian football’s biggest names to advise Australia’s governing body on technical and development matters.
Christened as the ‘Starting XI’, the panel is set to feature Australian football royalty Mark Viduka, Josip Skoko, Clare Polkinghorne, Ron Smith, Mark Bosnich, Paul Okon, Frank Farina, Heather Garriock, Vicki Linton, Joey Peters, and Connie Selby.
It will be the first time that Viduka has held a formal role in Australian football since he retired from the game over a decade ago.
The 11 will serve an initial two-year term on a voluntary basis and report to FFA’s Football Development Committee.
“Since joining FFA I have made it clear that we will be a football-first organisation that seeks to harness the collective knowledge and experience that our most successful contributors – be they current or former players, coaches, or officials – have to offer,” FFA CEO James Johnson said.
“We have had to act quickly to stabilise the organisation during this difficult period. In the background, however, we have been moving several pieces to ensure that we continue to do the work which will be vital to launching the future of football in Australia.
“The Starting XI will provide a great platform for eleven of our best football brains to share their insights and ideas with FFA on key matters from grassroots to international football, national teams, player pathways, and the overall wellbeing of the game.
“Having people of the calibre of the Starting XI directly communicating with FFA on a regular basis will be invaluable for the organisation and help to achieve a shared vision for the game.
“We would like to thank the inaugural members of the Starting XI for agreeing to share their vast lived experiences with us, and believe the diverse range of people with world-class football acumen on the panel will enable us to access a wide range of local and global views to help us drive football forward.”
The announcement of the Starting XI panel comes at a time of COVID-19 enforced introspection in the Australian game, with the sudden jarring halt of the game at all levels leading to calls for reform in several areas of the sport.
In a recent interview with ESPN, Johnson, who has won acclaim for his football-centric musings since ascending to the FFA CEO role in January, laid out an ambitious vision for reform of the game's developmental system, while a panel of six Socceroos legends, two of whom in Viduka and Skoko will now sit on the 'Starting XI' panel, despaired over numerous facets of Australian football in a widely viewed Optus Sport special.
However, though the panel does provide another means of steering the direction of Australian football, the announcement comes at a time when the FFA remains without an all-important Technical Director that can put any vision into practice.
Rob Sherman, who has slammed what he called a siloed and political approach to the game at the FFA, departed the position in March after less than a year in the role, which had previously sat vacant for nine months following the departure of his predictor Eric Abrams in July of 2018.