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A-League on ABC – A big tick for the FFA

Recently, it was announced that 29 A-League fixtures would be broadcasted on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, a free to air channel.

After several seasons with primarily SBS, Fox Sports and most recently, Kayo, the FFA has made a deal with the ABC to broadcast select games.

The A-League will be televised along with matches from the W-League. Furthermore, Matildas and Socceroos matches will also find their way onto the ABC.

This is a wonderful move by the FFA to include and reach out to each and every soccer fan in the country. The A-League season is mere days away and the inclusion of the W-League and Matildas is the cherry on top of a business venture that appears to be a win-win for all soccer fans.

Many fans took to social media to express their delight in hearing that the A-League will be shown on the ABC.

Here’s to hoping that the deal made between Fox Sports, the ABC and the FFA opens up new roads of opportunity for the A-League and aspiring soccer players.

The first game to be telecast will be the Western Sydney Wanderers home fixture against the Central Coast Mariners this Saturday.

Get involved in the discussion on Twitter @Soccersceneau. How do you view this landmark deal?

The importance of the professional football coach in Australia

Bobby Walker was the first professional football coach appointed in Australia when he took the helm at the Gladesville-Ryde club in 1939. Walker had played professionally in Scotland for Motherwell FC and Falkirk FC.

He was the first of many from the British Isles to venture to the footballing outpost that was Australia for much of the 20th century. The contributions that he and many others made played an important role in the growth and development of the game.

Sadly, the notion of fully professional coaches mentoring young players in their formative years has been more of a dream than a reality in Australian football. Enthusiastic parents often took on official duties at a grass roots level and the number of officially qualified coaches in schools has traditionally been low.

The reality for players blessed with talent not deemed worthy of representative level play; those perhaps destined to bloom and flourish as a player a little later in life, is that the influence of a professional to guide and nourish their football development is rarely a reality.

In recent times, parents keen to encourage and fast track their child’s development have sought other avenues. As a result, the unregulated and often absurdly expensive academy system has become a necessary evil for parents of talented and enthusiastic young footballers.

It is a somewhat surprising reality that it took nearly 80 years from the time of Walker’s appointment for a fully professional coaches association to appear. It is long overdue. There is a current and urgent need to ensure that the hundreds of thousands of young people playing football in Australia are given qualified and professional instruction.

Conjointly, immediate action is required to reform/rewrite the National Curriculum which has proven nothing but a failure.

With an intention to represent, advocate, develop and support professional coaches, Football Coaches Association (FCA) will play a key role in addressing such issues.

The association’s work extends beyond the obvious need to continually improve coaching standards in Australia. It is also focused on providing opportunities for professional and community based coaches to contribute to Australia’s football narrative.

As an extension of both a raising of the bar in terms of professional standards and providing a supportive, community based and inclusive environment for all coaches involved in the game, FCA also aims to enhance the reputation of Australian football and its coaches on the world stage.

As we speak, former Socceroo manager Ange Postecoglou stands within a handful of wins and just a few weeks of becoming Australia’s most successful coaching export. Should Yokohama F.Marinos manage to seal the deal over the final month of the J-League season, his achievement would be considerable and well deserved.

Postecoglou forms part of a group of Australian coaches who have dominated the top flight of domestic football since the inception of the A-League. Alongside Socceroo and Olyroo boss Graham Arnold, current Perth manager Tony Popovic and former Victory coach Kevin Muscat, Postecoglou completes an impressive quartet.

As a collective, the four men possess six A-League championships, countless grand final appearances and a staggering seven premierships. Their sustained success confirms the importance and value of a proven coach. In spite of playing personnel changes, injury concerns or absences due to international duty, their message always remained consistent, firm and effective.

Now, Western United’s Mark Rudan and Sydney FC’s Steve Corica loom as the new generation of Australian coaches, yet with only Popovic employed on the domestic scene, the stocks do look a little thin elsewhere.

It is potentially where Australian football is slightly off the mark when it comes to player development. Rather than mad capped international searches to find the right visa player or marquee man, A-League and NPL clubs would be better served investing more heavily in the person they ultimately choose to mentor their playing squad.

Acquiring the services of an elite international coach would do far more for young Australian players seeking to learn and develop their footballing nous.

Playing professionally alongside an experienced ex-La Liga or Bundesliga journeyman will no doubt count for something. However, young players like Riley McGree, Elvis Kamsoba and Al Hassan Toure will benefit far more from time spent under a truly world class manager than mingling with an ageing veteran merely visiting our shores.

Postecoglou, Arnold and Popovic have all had a taste of coaching abroad and our best minds will now always attract Asian Confederation interest. What remains on their departure will always be young and developing coaches, coaching young and developing players.

Redressing that cycle is vital and something within which the FCA can play a key role; both in improving standards and enunciating the importance of the coach at all levels of football.

PFA reveals factors behind the success of Australia’s golden generation Socceroos

Australia’s golden generation featured a host of players who made a name for themselves and created football memories that will last forever.

But what were the factors that made them so successful? As part of a recent study, 17 golden generation players were interviewed to discover more about their pathways, experiences and personal journeys.

The study, called “Culture Amplifies Talent”, was undertaken by Professional Footballers Australia, with research conducted by members of Victoria University.

The main aim of the study was to uncover and confirm the contributing factors to the golden generation’s success.

As part of the interviews, ex-players spoke about their journey through youth structures and were asked to reflect on what young players of today should be doing in order to maximise their potential.

There is certainly plenty to learn from the findings.

Victoria University researchers deemed that the main factors for the golden generation’s success were passion, family, mentality, environment, practice and pathways.

The study found that golden generation players stayed at their junior club for an extended period of time before moving into the senior ranks. That move was usually made within the same club, with family adding an extra layer of support and connection.

That translated to players spending more time at clubs in unstructured soccer activities with teammates and friends, quite different to current junior players whose organised training is far more structured.

The longevity within and connectivity to junior roots played a key role in the success of the players we now label as the golden generation.

The study provides valuable insight and creates an interesting discussion as to the correct approach clubs should take when it comes to junior players.

All findings uncovered by Victoria University will be shared with clubs, federations and other stakeholders; providing much food for thought for those involved in junior development..

Originally published as: New research reveals characteristics of golden generation success

AAFC Chairman Nick Galatas claims second division dream still alive

The A-League may be independent, but that won’t get in the way of the big plans for a second division with promotion and relegation.

While it may seem like a barrier, Australian Association of Football Clubs (AAFC) chairman Nick Galatas is an optimist.

He has recently spoken about how these changes should be considered, despite the A-League being independent. There’s no reason why it shouldn’t be put on the table, with a revamp for Australian soccer not outside the realms of possibility.

“We have no reason to believe that the A-League owners will do anything other than support what we’re trying to do with a national second division,” Galatas said.

“We think it will help the whole game. It will create great excitement throughout the country when it’s formed.

“We see what the A-League is doing and we see that they are trying to raise the profile of their competition and of football and we believe that what we are doing will assist that and help to expand the game throughout Australia.

“We see a national second division as a necessary condition for promotion and relegation because we need to fill the gap that currently exists between the A-League and NPL.”

Having been involved in the game during the transition from the old National Soccer League to the A-League, Galatas believes he has a new model will help positively shape the future of soccer.

“No doubt many of our constituents will feel there was a time when they were left behind as the focus shifted on the professional side of the game at A-League level at the exclusion of others,” he said.

“But I’m seeing a lot of goodwill and I think everyone is starting to realise that the game as a whole benefit when everyone is involved and invested.

“Whether you’re an A-League club or a team below that with potential to grow and reach its potential, why shouldn’t that be welcomed?”

Since the AAFC has been formed, it’s made massive inroads for the potential of introducing a national second division, which came to light in a meeting between Victorian clubs.

“We always thought that the clubs would bind together because they have a common interest and the environment they were operating in has been difficult for them,” he said.

“I guess I’m pleasantly surprised with the level of commitment over a long period between so many different clubs from all across Australia.

“There are very, very different types of clubs across Australia and the fact that we’ve been able to keep everyone together, informed and moving in the same direction has been great.

“We were new at the time the old board’s tenure was coming to an end.

“I guess we weren’t on the landscape and we were a new organisation and there were a lot of pressures on that board at that time, so perhaps we were last on their mind.

“But we were still invited by them to all the critical meetings in which FIFA was involved so ultimately they accepted us and collaborated with us even before the new board was elected.

“We’re working very well with the new board as well and they’ve been very accepting of us and in particular Chris Nikou and Remo Nogarotto, which has been very encouraging.”

Galatas has had talks with the FFA board, the PFA and other related stakeholders, with the plan being a new second division should come into effect by the 2021-22 season.

“When we started we really sought to have a voice and be recognised on the congress, which we’ve made progress on,” he said.

“That’s obviously opened up the discussions around a second division and conducting and completing a national review of the NPL, so we’ve worked through some of the big-ticket items, I guess now the focus is on doing what we’re here to do and work with our club members and the issues they face from state to state.

“We’re here to make sure the NPL clubs are properly represented at every level, including at the FFA level and making sure their concerns are addressed through the FFA and the state federations.

“In Victoria, we’ve had a lot to do with the new NPL structure there, we’ve liaised with our clubs to liaise with Football Victoria to ensure it’s implemented as smoothly as possible.

“We’re getting involved in state-based issues and each director has an eye on their state.

“We believe a national second division will help in this area because it will help develop stronger clubs and unleash new investment in the game at this level.

“It will encourage greater participation and supporters which will lead to better facilities.

“As we develop as an organisation we’ve been able to put people in place who assist clubs in providing know-how and IP and general assistance we share amongst our clubs to help show them how to access grants and investment from local, state and federal government, the private sector as well as sporting trusts.

“It’s so important to our game because it’s lasting and can lead to exponential growth.”

Originally published as Second division dream still alive

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