Over the last year, we have celebrated the 15th anniversary of the establishment of the PFA. The PFA was, of course, created as the “Australian Soccer Players’ Association” with the twin objectives of supporting the players and building the Australian football industry from a “joke” into one respected throughout the nation and the football world.
The focus of our celebrations has, quite rightly, been the players themselves, with the long welcomed inauguration of the PFA Awards that will no doubt grow in prestige in coming years: the PFA Footballer of the Year; the PFA Harry Kewell Medal, for Australia’s best player under the age of 23; the PFA Alex Tobin OAM Medal, to recognise those rare leaders among our champion players who have truly shaped the game for the better; and, of course, the PFA Kimon Taliadoros Scholarships, in recognition of our highly intelligent and courageous co-founder.
However, our 15th anniversary also highlighted the imperative need for all professionals to be taught and to understand the history of both our game and their association.
Click on the video below to see some of the PFA's significant wins for Australian footballers' since it was established in 1993.
Those recognised by our awards see the coming together of Australia’s past champions with the stars of today and tomorrow: the achievements and contributions on and off the field of the late Johnny Warren, Joe Marston, Tim Cahill, Nikita Rukavystya, Andrew Clarke, Adam D’Apuzzo and, of course, Harry, Alex and Kimon are diverse and say much about both the history and future of Australian football.
We cannot lose sight of the players’ plight before the PFA: an industry regarded as a ‘joke’ by most of Australia, player contracts terminated on 7 days notice by clubs without cause, no minimum employment standards, and a transfer system that treated players as if they were the property of their clubs. The response of the players’ union movement – at home and throughout the world – to these challenges has been phenomenal.
Understandably, many young players, be they in the academy system, the A-League or even already with overseas clubs, are unaware of the role of the PFA over 15 years, or the desperate state of Australian soccer (as it was called) and the playing career path when the PFA was founded.
Many of our great achievements: the establishment of a guaranteed standard player contract, the abolition of the domestic transfer and compensation fee system, the creation of national team and league collective bargaining agreements and, indeed, the establishment of the A-League itself were only achieved because the PFA fought vigorously for what was in the best interests of the game and the players. All of these innovations were vigorously opposed by the leading administrators of the day. In fact, all were opposed at some stage on the spurious ground that they would destroy the game!
The same is true at the global level – with FIFPro, after backing Bosman’s courageous stand of 1995, now responsibly working with FIFA to enhance the professionalism of the game and its players throughout the world. Bosman has encouraged an era of unprecedented wealth and cooperation within the global football industry, despite football’s powers of the day saying it would bring about the demise of the game.
The PFA, like the elite professional footballers we represent, cannot be content with an industry that is merely respected, although respect is essential. We are driven to see our industry be recognised unambiguously as a world class example of professional football, on and off the field.
This will call for a major and continuing contribution from the players. The players must, and will, happily make that contribution. In so doing, however, it will be necessary for the game to not only establish, but warmly embrace, world class employment conditions and practices.
As a football nation, we will rely on 300 to 400 players to deliver internationally competitive performances against the world’s biggest football nations, who access thousands. It is the PFA’s job to ensure the game invests in every one of these careers, for in them lie the hopes and dreams of a sporting nation that is finally understanding and embracing the culture of football.
The 8 lesson program teaches values to students that include respect, fair play, teamwork and leadership. Click here for more.