The Westfield FFA Cup has opened the eyes of virtually all NPL and lower tier clubs to what lies ahead.
They’ve seen how big the Cup has become. They’ve witnessed the effect it’s had on the public. They’ve understood how much it can benefit their clubs on and off the pitch.
And the players have realised the joy it’s brought to so many semi-pro footballers and the odd self-described ‘pub team’.
In short, the Westfield FFA Cup has been an eye-opener.
A superbly crafted tournament with a simple concept - it hasn’t had to rely on gimmicks or promotional stunts in the case of, say, the Big Bash League. A true national Cup competition where football fairy-tales can and do come true. It’s been genuine.
And it’s had a galvanising effect across the wide football landscape.
If you want an example, the Sydney United versus Sydney FC Cup clash in September was a perfect case study of that.
So many more examples too… Palm Beach Sharks’ amazing run, Bentleigh Greens and Adelaide City and of course South Springvale.
It’s changed priorities. Suddenly you’re on TV. Suddenly you’re in the media. Suddenly you’re accountable. There’s a buzz about the Cup’s possibilities and right now across the country there are clubs who will be desperate to replicate the success of some of these clubs next year.
Which means the 2015 Westfield Cup will be even better; likewise 2016, 2017 and so on.
Those lower-tier clubs who didn’t make the round of 32 will be hell-bent on making it this time and each time the Cup comes around (it’s fair to say many clubs didn’t realise the Cup’s potential in their respective state qualifying competitions).
One player told me some clubs might even look at the Cup as a priority over their week in week out divisional football. That’s a big call but it shows how much the Cup has ignited passions and priorities across the country.
Which is why the Cup has wider implications for the game.
Imagine if you’re a club that was knocked out of the qualifying for the round of 32. You’d be gutted to have missed out.
It means heading into next season, you’d want to gain every advantage you can; how you prepare, how you recruit, how the players train, nutrition, tactics, how you lobby council for more funds, better training facilities.
Clubs will now be looking at every avenue to gain that competitive advantage on their rivals for when 2015 Cup qualifying comes around.
This means, over time, players at this level will improve as the culture and environment raises its standard.
Replicate that across the country and this will have a major impact. Of course the PS4 NPL nationwide will be boosted, but by extension the Hyundai A-League too as it looks to pick up talent from the second and third tiers.
Players’ preparation and readiness for the next step will be better. And improving club environments will help
The motivation to improve is now there – and it’ll be those clubs and players who see the possibilities who will benefit from this bright future for the Westfield FFA Cup.