Grounds for complaint

Today, we launch the 'Grounds for Complaint' campaign. Football has missed out on it's share of public funding. The aim of this campaign is to change that.

For every football pitch available in Australia, there are 140 players who want to use it. Of all the striking statistics to emerge from the National Facilities Audit conducted by Football Federation Australia three years ago, this is arguably the most confronting.

At a time when player registrations are at an all-time high - and showing few signs of falling away - there can be no argument that supply is palpably failing to meet demand.

The explosion of interest in women's football only makes the problem more acute. Players of all ages, of both genders, of many different cultures, are clamouring to get onto the park. Which makes fixing the infrastructure vacuum - in my view - the most pressing issue we face.

The challenge for football as a whole is to present a more convincing case to those who have their hands on the public purse. The obligation is to contribute to this process more readily than in the past.

Anecdotally, there are amateur clubs across the nation protecting large bank balances. You can't cry poor when you're doing that. Those that control these accounts need to bring something to the table.

In Victoria, for instance, there are more artificial pitches (35) than the rest of the country combined because clubs and associations have been been willing to co-invest. There's a lesson in there.

For all that, however, one thing is abundantly clear. When it comes to getting a fair slice of the public pie, football has missed out on its share.

The fact that there is only one venue in the Hyundai A-League - Hindmarsh Stadium - which has been built specifically for football tells a fundamental truth. Compare that to how many venues rival sports are able to call their own, and you get some idea of the disparity.

This is not a problem confined to the professional end of the game, however. In fact it is especially acute at grassroots and semi-pro (state league) level, where the greatest number of players are using the worst-possible facilities. Something has to give.

Today, we launch the 'Grounds for Complaint' campaign to try and bring this issue into focus. It's not propaganda, it's fact. We want to empower those who have suffered the most to tell us their stories, and their experiences. We want to build a body of evidence, and a compelling narrative, that can be used to convince those who control public funding to listen to football's case.

As part of this process, we will be publishing articles and columns on footballaustralia.com.au to highlight examples of where the game has struggled to get what it deserves. But it will be you, the public, who will ultimately determine how successful this campaign will be.

If you believe, engage. There's a lot of ground to make up.

Is your local football ground doing it tough? In serious need of investment? Tell us your story below and become part of the campaign for change.