FFA CEO David Gallop says the Westfield FFA Cup is helping to super-charge grassroots football and believes the gap between semi-professional football and the Hyundai A-League is closing as a result.
Speaking at the launch of the 2015 Westfield FFA Cup on Thursday, Gallop trumpeted a bigger and better event this year which will benefit football at Hyundai A-League, semi-professional and grassroots level.
There are a few tweaks for season two of the competition, including a stand-alone Saturday night final, a condensed match schedule increased coverage on Fox Sports and all preliminary rounds now included as part of the Westfield FFA Cup.
After an incredible first year of the tournament, Gallop is predicting this year’s Westfield FFA Cup will capture the imagination of the sporting public even more.
“The magic of this competition is its knockout. Anyone can knock off potentially one of the A-League clubs on any day,” Gallop told reporters at the launch at Earlwood Football Club headquarters.
“What we saw last year was right from the start when Adelaide City beat the Wanderers that you have to be on your toes in this competition.
“With over 650 clubs involved this year it’s an exciting connection point between the grassroots and the elite level of competition.
“This is an opportunity to condense things in the second season, the grassroots clubs will be more match-fit and it obviously allows for a bit more space around the A-League pre-season.
“We've planned it in a spot where we will look to have as much clear air as you can expect in Australian sport.”
Gallop recognizes the importance of the grassroots levels of the game and believes competitions like the Westfield FFA Cup is helping to improve standards in all facets of the game.
“Part of the NPL, part of the FFA Cup is to lift the standard of the semi-professional level,” he said.
“We want to close the gap between those players and A-League players.
“We saw in the Asian Cup that 17 of the 23 [Socceroos] players came through the A-League and that means they came through Australian grassroots football.
“It’s not just players but will improve coaching, improve club administration as well.”
The first year of the Westfield FFA Cup provided many highlights, from the opening night at Broadmeadow Magic, to Thomas Love’s solo goal for Adelaide City to help knock off the Wanderers, right through to a sold-out final in Adelaide.
With the Socceroos Asian Cup success also still fresh in the memory, Gallop hailed this as a golden time for the code in Australia.
“There’s a huge buzz around the game. We’ve seen already numbers are huge for people registering to play the game,” he said.
“Interest in the A-League is surging as we head towards the finals, the Matildas are going to Canada [for the Women’s World Cup in June] and now we’ve got the FFA Cup with over 650 clubs involved.“There’s a lot going on in Australian football and we can see popularity in Australian football is on the up-and-up due to things like this.”