FFA considering domestic cup competition
A domestic cup competition along the lines of England's FA Cup is just one of the issues being considered by Football Federation Australia after it met with a group of former Socceroos.
The informal forum included FFA chief executive Ben Buckley and board member Phil Wolanski and several past Socceroos including former captains Alex Tobin and Charlie Yankos, and players from previous eras including Ray Baartz, John Watkiss, Ted Smith and Doug Wendt.
Buckley said the issues discussed included the mentoring of current players by their predecessors, the new national youth league, a national football development plan, recognising the game's history and the establishment of a Socceroo Club.
Also discussed was the establishment of a knock-out cup competition, something which hasn't been played in Australia for just over 10 years.
The former competition, which ran from 1977 to 1997, included only National League clubs and attracted little publicity.
Tobin revealed a new cup format could allow teams from state leagues a crack at the A-League clubs, in much the same way the FA Cup allows lower division and non-league minnows a chance to upset the Premier League giants.
Australia's most capped Socceroo ever, Tobin, acknowledged there were logistical and geographical problems associated with a genuine national competition Down Under.
"Any talk about cup competitions in Australia has difficulties, obviously with the travel and a small club in NSW probably can't resource itself to be able to play a small club in Perth, that's the reality of it," Tobin said.
"So any cup competition may have to come with a notion of a regionalised system.
"Maybe A-League clubs and NSW Premier League and Victorian Premier League clubs can come in at a later stage, something of that nature.
"To give all clubs an opportunity of playing an A-League opponent is a great sort of fairytale story that you would love to see happen.
"It's not easy, there's no doubt about that, but it's something at least we can put on the drawing board and maybe have a think about it and if it's possible then it would be great to see and I'm sure the general public would get behind it."
Former central defender Tobin, now an assistant coach with the Central Coast Mariners, was pleased to see the FFA showing interest in recognising the history of the Socceroos.
Buckley said Australia had a rich soccer history and needed to find a way to celebrate and embrace its past.
He stressed the importance of elevating the public profile of the FFA's Hall of Fame and finding a venue to house the code's memorabilia.
Tobin welcomed the news as he said it was not something that had been done well in the past.
"When I was playing for the national team I was upset that I didn't know enough about the previous generation and it wasn't through any lack of intelligence and trying to find that information, it just wasn't out there, so it would be great to recognise that past and collate any of the noteworthy artefacts and memorabilia of those generations," Tobin said.
Buckley said the forum had produced a lot of good ideas and he would like to make it a regular occurrence.
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