One thing that has baffled many people involved in football has been the rhetoric coming out of the FFA on youth development, with hereto little action. Sure they are picking the supposed cream of football talent, and placing them in High Performance Centres or National Training Centres, but what about improving the overall standards? The standards of those who are not fortunate to live near the areas where trials may be held, get missed by the coaches or mature late.
In his presentation on the NPL and the future of football in Australia National Technical Director Han Berger showed a slide that stated the following: “In youth development the interest of the player should come first, not the self interest of clubs; coaches; agents; private academies; (sports high) schools; etc.” We agree 100%, and would add that the enjoyment of the player is also a crucial factor. If they do not enjoy playing the game and the coaching, they will soon look elsewhere.
Berger then advised that the FFA had recently ‘rewritten and restructured’ all of its coaching courses; which to many cynics sounded like someone trying to justify their job, or in fact find something to do in head office. As Berger rightly states better coaches should mean better footballers and better football played.
The FFA have as part of this development stated that all semi professional clubs must have coaches with certain coaching badges to be a part of this new era. Again this makes sense, the better the standard of coaches the more likelihood the standard of football played will improve. Most people interested in coaching or improving the standards of football would willingly become a part of this, however this is where question marks suddenly start to pop up.
For the next two years coaches of juniors can coach with a junior, youth or senior licence. To obtain this qualification at its most basic level will cost $85. Each level will cost a further $85. By 2016 all of these junior coaches are expected to have achieved a C-Licence in order to coach under 12’s up to under 20’s. The cost of this qualification, apart from the time, is at the moment $1320 per person. If you have ambitions to be a first team coach or the unnecessary expense of a Technical Director at an NPL club you will be required to have a B Licence which will currently set you back a further $3190, at the present time.
What surprises many is the fact the FFA have on occasion stated that they will not acknowledge a European equivalent coaching licence. This seems totally bizarre as the standards of football and coaching in Europe one would think would be higher than in Australia, as the game is a way of life there. Another concern is the pressure being applied to have those in coaching achieve these standards in these time frames.
However the big question that has to be asked is why are most of these courses not free or at least heavily subsidised for the next two years? If the FFA is serious about improving the coaching standards across Australia, have those qualified to train coaches moving around the country doing just that. To some the current costs are highly prohibitive especially in these tough economic times and with no security in any coaching position the cost will prove hard to justify to their partners at home.
If the FFA is serious about improving coaching at all levels these courses need to be more readily affordable. At the current time from the outside looking in it appears that it is simply another form of revenue raising, and once again the financial burden is being put on the clubs to find the money to up-skill their coaching staff if they wish to keep them working at the club. Surely there are grants to cover such training if it is keeping people healthy. Surely there is a sponsor out there who would love access to such demographics?
The game cannot go on in this way with the game’s governing body continually putting out its hand for money, eventually something has to give. It would be a shame to see one generation of young footballers suffer simply because of money, it is after all supposed to be a game for all