Over the summer, NSFA appointed a new Chief Executive Officer: Howard Mann. We spoke to him recently about his role, his goals and his favourite teams.
Favourite Football Team: Bolton Wanderers.
Best sporting moment: Undoubtedly my favourite football moment is BWFC qualifying for the UEFA Cup and drawing 2v2 at Bayern Munich. Sadly they didn’t progress from the group stage.
Sydney FC, Central Coast Mariners or Western Sydney Wanderers? As Western Sydney have Wanderers in their name I seem to favour them, but have been to Gosford and Allianz on numerous occasions.
I have been involved with NSFA since I arrived from UK in 1985. Initially as a player for Lane Cove West FC then as their Registrar, Treasurer and Public Officer for over a decade. All three of my kids have played for Northbridge FC and I coached or managed their teams. I also became a qualified referee during this period.
In 2013 I was asked if I would be interested in replacing Phil Bradfield the retiring Treasurer with NSFA. I felt that my financial, operational and process skills would be a good fit as the NSFA moved to a new, more professional era.
I wanted to increase transparency of NSFA to its member clubs, specifically in the area of financial disclosure. To a large degree, I believe I have done that. Additionally, I wanted to align the fees paid by our member clubs by age group to the costs incurred in delivering services to those age groups. We are now on a 5-year realignment program that effectively reduces costs to younger age groups.
Under my leadership, I would like to influence the funding model for grass-roots football. At present NSFA contributes about $750k to FNSW & FFA. This is funded by players. I would like sponsorship and grants to increase and peak body costs to decrease resulting in a reduction of the cost to players. That change will encourage more entrants to our beautiful game.
A further constraint for NSFA is grounds. I would like the quality and quantity of grounds to increase. In recent years we have added 5 synthetic surfaces across our zone (Northbridge, Charles Bean, Cammeray and Blackman x 2) all replacing existing turf surfaces. Later this year North Turramurra Recreation Area should complete with 1 x synthetic & 2 x turf grounds.
This is all great but it is still not enough to satisfy the demand for the only growing winter field sport in NSW.
So we need to work with local councils and get higher up their priority list. This will be a focus of mine.
Additionally, I would like to use technology to simplify the experience of our members. In 2016, we will commence this program with electronic match cards. This will allow team managers and referees to complete all match day activities using their smart phones.
Both the Board and I are keen to continue the considerable growth of our development programs. These include Football school, holiday programs, SAP (Skills Acquisition Program), met north representative programs and our Northern Tigers teams in FNSW NPL2.
We are also extending coaching qualifications into our member clubs via girls Diamond league and junior division 1 programs. We believe better qualified coaches equals a better experience for the players.
In my prior corporate background, I have been a senior manager/executive at Merlin International Properties (built Darling Harbour), Lend Lease and IBM over 30 years. My main responsibilities have been in Finance & Operations. These roles have taught me that patience is a virtue but be determined about the course you are on. Don’t give up.
I have volunteered for the Smith Family and Guide Dogs NSW/ACT. These roles have taught me the vagaries of organisations that utilise volunteers for the lions’ share of the work. This will be valuable experience that I will bring to the NSFA.
2016 will be the first year I won’t be playing football after 30 years playing in defensive roles at Lane Cove West FC. However, I will continue to referee in the NSFA Competition as I am a Level 2 qualified referee.