Be proud on Australia Day

When you wave the Australian flag and sing the national anthem on Australia Day, as I hope you will do with gusto, you should know that football is a part of what makes our nation great.

This Australia Day will be a special one for me. I'll have the privilege of being among the full house at AAMI Park in Melbourne to watch the Melbourne Victory v Sydney FC showdown.

Like many football fans I watched the Fox Sports live coverage of the Alessandro Del Piero masterclass last weekend. I can-t wait to see two of the great entertainers of the competition, ADP and Archie Thompson, show their class on centre stage in Melbourne.

The Hyundai A-League action is the main event on Australia Day, with the Wanderers v Heart and Glory v Roar matches giving us a great line-up, but before a ball is kicked I'm eager to see first hand the U-NITE celebration hosted by Melbourne Victory.

On my first day in the job as FFA CEO, I said that in my view no other sport can truly reflect the unique multiculturalism of our country like football.

Everything I've seen since has reinforced that feeling. From all I've heard, the U-NITE celebration is a wonderful showcase of football's diversity and the game's unique ability to bring people together.

The day's activities include cultural entertainment outside AAMI Park, a curtain raiser featuring players from a recent Horn of Africa tournament in Melbourne and 55 people in a citizenship ceremony on the pitch before kick off.

What a way for a football fan to become an Australian citizen! The symbolism is incredibly powerful.

Football is woven through the fabric of Australia's diverse society thanks to the game-s extensive multicultural heritage.

Australia Day is first and foremost about people coming together to take pride in our nation. We have achieved so much as Australians and overcome so much adversity.

While we celebrate, I think football people everywhere can take immense satisfaction in the role the game has played and will continue to play in nation building.

For many new arrivals to our country, football provides a point of reference from the world they have left behind.

That-s happened for more than a century, from the British who became the coal miners and football pioneers in the Hunter Valley to the Somali refugees who will play at AAMI Park as part of U-NITE.

Football, whether it-s through our network of clubs or by a social kick around in the park, has that unique ability to be a common language.

The game has rolled out the welcome mat for generations and we are richer for it. Looking ahead to the Asian century, football will be Australia-s bridge to the region and through the AFC Asian Cup 2015 Australia will again demonstrate the game-s nation building capabilities.

When you wave the Australian flag and sing the national anthem on Australia Day, as I hope you will do with gusto, you should know that football is a part of what makes our nation great.

Happy Australia Day to football fans everywhere.

And don-t forget the Westfield W-League Grand Final between Victory and Sydney FC on Sunday. I-ll be back at AAMI Park so I hope to see you there. If you can-t make it, tune into the live coverage on ABC TV.