It’s been a memorable year for football in Queensland on multiple fronts, from unforeseen challenges to momentous reforms to exciting new initiatives.
In FQ’s 2020 Year in Review, we reflect on the milestones, achievements and progress the Queensland football community has celebrated throughout an unprecedented 12 months.
NEW INITIATIVES SUPPORT REFEREES
FQ rolled out numerous initiatives in 2020 to support referees and foster ongoing registration growth, beginning with January’s introduction of the pink armband for match officials aged under 18 and new ‘sin bin’ rules.
The announcements continued throughout the year, from the e-learning platform to the inaugural FQ Referee Academy to a partnership with RefLIVE and, in November, the launch of the Futsal Referee Information Pack.
FQ ROAD TRIP
The FQ Road Trip returned bigger and better than ever in February, expanding into a state-wide journey spanning 1,700 kilometres and reaching eight regional and metropolitan centres.
Though curtailed prematurely due to the developing COVID-19 situation, FQ team members still succeeded in engaging more than 250 participants as they delivered MiniRoos and Walking Football clinics, come-and-try opportunities for women and girls, and workshops for coaches, referees and clubs.
INNOVATION KEEPS FOOTBALL COMMUNITY CONNECTED DURING COVID
After COVID-19 forced the suspension of grassroots football in March, FQ reacted quickly to develop innovative new content and communication pieces which proved exceptionally successful in keeping the Queensland football community fully engaged and connected.
Four new video series – including MiniRoos Recess, Backyard Drills & Chills and the FQ Classic Matches – attracted a combined social media audience of more than 540,000 people during the major March and April lockdown months.
FQ’s first ever FIFA 20 E-Series tournament engaged football-focused gamers, attracting over 800 participants and adding print media coverage to the broadcast interest that the MiniRoos Recess product had garnered, while the eight-part FQ Podcast series offered insights into the lives and stories of well-known Queensland football personalities.
Meanwhile, to keep all clubs and community members up to date with developments, FQ delivered no fewer than 30 web articles and EDMs directly related to COVID-19 during these two months, in addition to frequent social media posts.
This united spirit has carried on into the Community Noticeboard, which launched in July as a dedicated hub for clubs and zones to share local news, events and more.
FOOTBALL RETURNS WITH COVID COMPLIANCE
FQ worked closely with key stakeholders including the State Government over a period of several months to produce and share essential documents such as the COVID Safe Plan, the Return to Training Guidelines and the Return to Play Guidelines that all facilitated the eventual recommencement of competitions across Queensland in July.
The football community’s compliance with COVID-19 regulations, in part enabled by the QR code reporting solution FQ supplied to all clubs, led to full National Premier Leagues (NPL) Queensland and Football Queensland Premier League seasons.
Community competitions in most zones were also able to confirm complete schedules for MiniRoos, juniors, youth and seniors.
Football’s welcome return was made more special by the March launch of NPL.TV, an industry-first over-the-top streaming service FQ developed in conjunction with Football NSW and sports media and data agency Sportradar.
The announcement followed confirmation that FQ would live stream every single NPL Women’s game throughout the season for the first time ever.
FUTURE OF FOOTBALL 2020+
Beginning in May, FQ set out on an extensive consultation and reform process known as Future of Football 2020+, giving Queensland’s football community the opportunity to provide feedback and input across governance, administration, competitions and affordability.
The initiative is a core component of FQ’s vision to unite football in Queensland and has so far spawned club workshops across the state, a Consultation Paper, an independent governance review, an Opportunities Paper and many important reforms.
CLUB DEVELOPMENT UNIT LAUNCHED
In June, FQ established the new Club Development Unit, which quickly began implementing Skill Acquisition Phase (SAP) reforms and undertaking advanced club assessments that have since led to the distribution of the first FQ Club Shields, another new initiative announced in June which provides clarity and transparency around club-based technical development offerings.
New partnerships have been forged for football and existing relationships strengthened in 2020, with Green Options getting behind our game and Kappa confirming a three-year extension alongside several more fresh strategic connections, ranging from and TAFE Queensland to The Great Public Schools’ Association of Queensland (GPS) to Containers for Change.
SPORTING SCHOOLS SUCCESS
The GPS partnership supports FQ’s commitment to developing school football programs and progress in this space continued throughout the year.
The popular Sporting Schools football program enjoyed great engagement, being delivered to over 8,000 students in Term 3 alone.
YEH THE GIRLS CUP
Among the many SAP and Talent Support Programs (TSP) carnivals held throughout the year was the 2020 Yeh the Girls Cup, which ran from 22 to 24 September in Ipswich alongside the simultaneous TSP Boys State Carnival in Logan.
Together, the two carnivals constituted the largest representative junior football event of the year in Australia, with 540 young players and 65 coaches coming from across Far North Queensland, North Queensland, Central Queensland and South East Queensland.
STRATEGIC INFRASTRUCTURE PLAN
FQ released its Strategic Infrastructure Plan for 2020-2024 in September to drive progress towards the state’s critical facility needs while unlocking the opportunity of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023, the hosting rights for which were awarded to Australia and New Zealand in June.
The Strategic Infrastructure Plan has already led to exciting milestones such as the launch of the Facilities Hub – where clubs can access various supportive facilities guides – and the delivery of a High Performance Centre in North Queensland, which features in the three strategic priorities outlined in the Plan.
MSP PILOT PROGRAMS
In October, FQ delivered two pilot programs in Logan and Toowoomba as part of Football Australia’s new Multicultural Settlement Program (MSP), which engages and provides playing opportunities for newly-arrived migrants aged between 5 and 11.
The free six-week MiniRoos programs add to FQ’s inclusion initiatives such as the Q-League, an eight-team competition for players from multicultural backgrounds that began in July and ran through to October.
DIGITAL ENGAGEMENT SOARS
FQ’s innovation in digital content delivery continued throughout the NPL Men’s, NPL Women’s and FQPL seasons and resulted in a social media explosion ahead of the Finals Series as FQ’s Facebook reach in September rocketed past 10.2 million people.
All in all, despite COVID-19 challenges, FQ experienced record digital growth in 2020, recording a 90% increase in Facebook reach, a 62% increase in Instagram engagement, a 54% increase in Twitter impressions and 33% more website page views compared to 2019 numbers.
KEY REFORMS REVOLUTIONISE COMPETITIONS
FQ’s focus on connecting competitions and strengthening pathways for players and clubs led to the reveal of crucial reforms that are set to move the game forward next season and beyond.
November’s major announcements included the groundbreaking connection of the football pyramid along with the awarding of licences for the incoming FQPL 2 competition and reformed NPL Women’s structure.
KAPPA FESTIVAL OF FOOTBALL
The 2020 season ended in style in November and December as the inaugural Kappa Festival of Football came to life, with seven huge games staged across two venues as a celebration of Queensland’s leading players, coaches and referees.
After a bumper Finals Series weekend and two exciting clashes between the NPL All-Stars and Brisbane Roar, the entertaining three-week schedule culminated in the reignited Queensland v New South Wales rivalry, involving men’s and women’s matches played for the Gibb-Masters Cup and Watson-O’Connor Cup at Perry Park.
KAPPA WOMEN’S SUPER CUP
FQ states in its Strategic Plan that women and girls are the future and it was this, in addition to Future of Football 2020+ feedback, that spurred the unveiling of the Kappa Women’s Super Cup, a landmark new state-wide women’s knockout tournament for Queensland.
The tournament is set to launch in 2021 with teams arranged into North, Central and South East Queensland conferences leading into a Finals Series in Brisbane.
REFEREE BLITZ CONTINUES STRONG COURSE CONSUMPTION
The day-long referee course blitz at Meakin Park in October contributed to another strong year for the development and education of Queensland’s match officials.
In total, FQ delivered 67 courses for 902 referees in 2020.
ADVANCED COURSES ADD TO COACH DEVELOPMENT
With a remarkable 50 days of Advanced Licence coaching delivered in just over 60 days from mid-October to mid-December, FQ’s year-long efforts to improve coach education ended on a highly productive note.
In total, FQ delivered 203 courses for 2,753 coaches in 2020.
SEQ FUTSAL PREMIER LEAGUE WRAPS UP
Following the release of FQ’s 2020-2022 Futsal Strategy, the SEQ Futsal Premier League kicked off its fifth season in November and reached an entertaining conclusion with December’s big Finals Series day at Nissan Arena.
All age groups took part as four clubs claimed Grand Final victories, while a number of team and individual awards were handed out throughout the day.
FOOTBALL IN QUEENSLAND AWARDS WEEK
The Football in Queensland Awards Week took on a unique format in 2020 as FQ acknowledged the achievements and accomplishments of Queensland players, coaches, referees, clubs and volunteers.
Taking place online and beginning 14 December, the celebration saw a number of awards presented across both competition-based and community categories including, but not limited to, Club of the Year, Volunteer of the Year and the Service to Football Award.
SEE YOU IN 2021!