User:Gus gardiner/The business and politics surrounding football: The AIS documentary case example

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The business and politics surrounding football: The AIS documentary case study presentation
Author Gus Gardiner
Word count
Copyright YesY
Referencing OK
Structure OK
Overall rating 4.5/5/5
Closing comments Gus you have done a very good job of your presentations. Its great that you were able to interview two people in the industry, it gives real insight into what roles business and politics play in football, especially from a local level (AIS perspective). Good and thorough job! U3017206 11:59, 1 November 2011 (UTC)
The business and politics surrounding football: The AIS documentary case study presentation
Author Gus Gardiner
Word count
Copyright Original work
Referencing YesY
Structure Excellent
Overall rating 4.5/5/5
Closing comments Great presentation Gus. The topic was original, the flow of the questions worked well and it was good to hear the thoughts of those involved in the industry. excellent insight. User:A_Brown 00:20, 3 November 2011 (UTC)

These two video interviews are personal observations from Mark Pepper (Football Operations Manager, Australian Institute of Sport) and Jan Versleijen (Head Coach, Australian Institute of Sport and Australian National Team U-20) about the business and politics surrounding sporting programs nationally and internationally. This includes insights about football generally and specifically insights applied to the Men's Football program at the Australian Institute of Sport.

These transcripts highlight the main points raised by Mark Pepper and Jan Versleigen - to see the whole interview please refer to the videos. Gus Gardiner (former Operations Coordinator at the Australian Institute of Sport, and assistant Team Manager for Joeys) revisits the key points established in the summary transcript and video.

Mark Pepper, Football Operations Manager, Australian Institute of Sport[edit]


1) Mark, in your experience what do you believe are the key points for the operation of a successful sporting program?

There are a number of different aspects including:

  • Having capable and committed people;
  • Having the resources including materials, players, and equipment; and
  • Money, you just can’t go past money, although a bottomless pit still wouldn’t be enough.

2) If you were to highlight key characteristics of successful administration, what would they be?

The number one characteristic would be a willingness to get your hands dirty, and nothing can be beneath you. I’m the football operations manager and I sign documents as the general manager, I do international and national clearances, I work with all the A-League Club’s and the Football Federation Australia (FFA). That’s the top end of what I do, although I also, when I don’t have an intern, wash football strips, fill drink bottles, and pump footballs. That’s the nature of the beast; you must be willing to get your hands dirty as a young administrator.

3) Do you think it’s a key consideration for a young student to ‘get dirty’ to break into the industry?

I think to an extent you can do that too much. If you focus too much on the nuts and bolts you can become known as just being very good at doing that one thing. You can become renowned for doing those nuts and bolt type things really well and that could hamstring you in the future. What I’m saying is you have to be willing to do things when the need arises. For example in you come on as my intern; you will be expected to ‘lick stamps’ and ‘seal envelopes’. That is the nature of the beast unfortunately. In saying that there will be roles done by people, very close to us, that have filled roles for FFA, and specifically Australia’s football team management. At this point maybe you can push some of those other things on; in other words you may not need to do it all yourself. So there is a balance in how you do it, and when you do it. As mentioned if I have an intern, I won’t be pumping footballs, because I have other things to do and that is one point of having an intern. Interns can use this opportunity as a foot in the door. You are not going to start you career at the top, unless your dad is Frank Lowe, you are not going to break into the top. So be prepared to do what it takes.

Another thing is initiative, if you have initiative and can think of a better way to do something that can improve the process, mention it! This is a way you will make your name. Bring fresh ideas to the organisation. Good administrators will recognise fresh ideas for what they are and embrace them. You will always get people who will want to maintain the status quo, who don’t like change. But you should show initiative and if they don’t recognise good ideas, you’re in the wrong place and just get out.

4) Do you believe that Sponsorship plays an important role in most sporting businesses.

I think it has the potential to. Certainly we are seeking sponsorship, and sponsorship does play a big part in sport generally. Marketing and those things are the grease that keeps the wheels turning. Here we are slightly different being a quasi-government organisation, in that we are well looked after by the AIS/ASC and FFA. So we get enough to tick over, although sponsorship gives us some breathing room in terms of operations and luxury items that we may require. There are always things that are needed in a development program to do things better and to give players more opportunity. In you don’t have the funds you can’t always do some of these things.

5) In relation to the Nike sponsorship deal, was it hard to implement?

We are currently in the process of implementing a sponsorship deal with Nike. This relationship will contain products given in kind, such as clothing and playing equipment. It’s a reasonable deal, by our standards. They are a great organisation that really ‘fits’ with our program. The people at Nike we have a very good relationship with. The product is good and highly recognisable and we are very happy with our relationship with Nike.

We did have a [Nike] deal that passed us by this year, but we are hopeful that we can resurrect it next year, to something a bit more substantial. On the positive side we are very happy to have someone providing much needed clothing and equipment. So for bureaucratic reasons we missed out on a better deal this year, although we are confident next year to resurrect that relationship.

6) Would you say relationship building plays a part in sponsorships?

The number one thing here is relationships. But also the thing we found with Nike is that they want a relationship with our young players who represent potential Harry Kewell’s etc. So Nike wants a relationship there, [and] we want a relationship with Nike in that the brand ‘fits’ well with the corporate image of the AIS. Fit is a very important issue, especially in a quasi-government organisation. We can’t just go anywhere, in terms of image. So Nike is a really good fit for us. They are predominately our sole sponsor, although we worked up another sponsor a couple of years ago called Oxey. Oxey is a male skin care company, and was another good fit. Sometimes sponsorships can fall through and sometimes there is nothing you can do, and that’s the way it works sometimes.

The one comment I always recall, that holds true no matter what, is that it is a lot easier to hold onto a sponsor than to find a new one. Seriously you fall over yourself trying to make sponsors happy, because if you’re doing right by the sponsor they will look after you.

7) Do you believe politics plays a role in youth football generally?

I think there is a degree of micro politics involved. I don’t think the policy makers at the top of the hill have a large impact. At ground level, like in a lot of sports, it's whose dads running the club, and how the kids get on with the representative coaches. It doesn’t hurt to have a relationship with key personal. If a coach has a choice to make between two technically even players, he will choose the one he knows. Young footballs should take their chances to form relationships. I think a lot of it comes down to the parent’s; making sure they’re involved with the coaches, and generally being supportive.

Jan Versleijen, Head Coach Australian Institute of Sport and Australian National Team U-20[edit]


1) Do you believe politics plays a role nationally and internationally in football?

I think from my experience there is a difference form what I notice in Australia to what I notice on an international level. I feel that in Australia there is more politics involved then in the international game. You still have situations where family and/or sponsors children get a preference in the team, and not always looking at the quality. I never saw that, because I come from Holland, I never saw that overseas. Dutch youth development is only about quality and the sport, and there are no political things involved.

2) Do you think that [politics in sport] comes up from a young age in Australia?

Yes, I still believe the Australian game needs to mature a little bit more. There are too many people that use football for their preferences and interests. You see countries with a long history of football, not using the football but actually serving the football for the sake of making football better.

3) Do you think politics plays a role in football generally, as a whole?

Yes, I think so. That has to do with it not being established yet, the more established the less political influences involved.

4) Do you think politics played a role in the under seventeens World Cup in Mexico?

No, I don’t think there were any politics involved. You can always talk about referees, but that is part of the game. I don’t see that as political involvement. We had an experience in the World Cup where we had to play the last game in the group against Denmark, and that game was cancelled due to weather. We had to play the next day in the morning, which was not ideal. It was the same for both teams. On the other hand for qualification for the first stage, we had to travel to another venue in Mexico by bus and plane. We then had to play against Uzbekistan, and that had some influence on the result, because Uzbekistan had three or four days’ rest. Whereas, we only had one day of rest and traveling involved. This is not so much political, and more just the rules that FIFA makes. You have to adapt, even if it’s not necessarily fair.

You could discuss, what’s happening with the World Cup bid. The World Cup bid had a lot of political influences involved, where lobbying was going on, and some say even bribery.

5) Do you think that there was bribery going on?

It’s difficult to say, but I guess on every level where we have a lot of money involved those things are happening to a certain degree. That’s not only in sports, but everywhere, and in some parts it’s accepted and in some it’s not. That’s how you play the game, and how the rules are established. There were a lot of other things about the world cup bid that were not fair. Like with the Olympics, there is also a lot of lobbying, and trying to please people and to get votes. It’s a thin line, and when you cross that line, it can be a grey area. Stay away from the grey area, and especially when you’re involved in sports always look at sports as a chance to serve the sport.

If you’re involved as a coach or an administrator always try a serve the sport.

Gus Gardiner, former Operations Coordinator Australian Institute of Sport, and assistant Joeys Team Manager[edit]

Summary Transcript[edit]

Gus Gardiner talks about the business and politics of sport The AIS documentary case example

Three key points where highlighted in the operation of a successful sporting program, including having capable and committed people, and having adequate resources including sufficient materials, players, and equipment. Both of these points lead into the third point, which is money. Money can influence many things including the players you can afford, the equipment you can purchase, the quality of facilities you can access, and the quality of staff you can afford to employ. All of these factors centered around money and can ultimately influence results on the playing field.

Sponsorship works hand in hand with money, and can greatly enhance the operation of a sporting organisation. As mentioned, increased capital can lead to greater spending capacity on essentials and can also create enhanced opportunities for player development. Key considerations with sponsorships include having a ‘fit’ and a 'relationship’ between the parties involved. The term 'fit' is used to illustrate the need for your image to match that of your sponsors. If the organisations do not relate to each other, they will not succeed, and are potentially doomed to fail. Once you have established the corporate fit and concluded the sponsorship contract, you should always maintain a good relationship with your sponsor. This will lead to better channels of communication, and ultimately lead to a more fulfilling and productive corporate relationship. Having a successful initial relationship with your sponsor could lead to further sponsorship opportunities, and in turn increase the long term financial stability of your organisation.

Some good advice was given in the previous interviews that young sports administrators could use in their careers. Sports administrators must be willing to get involved in all aspects of the sporting business, in other words a willingness to ‘get dirty’. Administrators can’t just expect to do the nice jobs all the time; there are also messy jobs that will need doing. This could include less desirable jobs such as washing playing strips, and filling up water bottles. Another key piece of advise was that administrators should demonstrate initiative, by bringing fresh ideas to their organisation. Ultimately by bringing up fresh ideas you can increase productivity and enhance your professional reputation.

I believe in addition to the advise given, young administrators should also positively put themselves out there in the market, and just generally take their chances.

Politics can play a role in football. This is demonstrated at the micro level with coaches showing a preference for players they know and trust. With this being said, its in a players interest to build a relationship with their coaches and representative officials. Unfortunately politics can also be demonstrated with some coaches selecting players that are associated with key sponsors or are a personal affiliate of the theirs. This can be a negative part of Australian football, and is seen at all levels. This should begin to change with the maturation and development of the game, with new initiatives being established to combat this issue. People working in sporting programs, and specifically football, need to work to better the game, and not just themselves.

Politics is a normal aspect of sports. I believe as a young administrator as long as I serve the sport for its interest and to better the game and myself I can maintain my integrity and reputation, while also achieving personal success.

I hope you have enjoyed the previous interviews, and learned something new. These interviews demonstrated the business and politics of sport, specifically football, at a local, national, and international level. This was achieved by gaining key professional opinions from Mark Pepper (Football Operations Manager, Australian Institute of Sport), and Jan Versleijen (Head Coach, Australian Institute of Sport and Australian National Team U-20).

Links and references[edit] Induction to the Australian Institute of Sport