Alex Brosque: A true football ambassador

Alex Brosque

When Alex Brosque first wore the colours of Marconi-Fairfield during the 2001-2002 N.S.L. season, he exuded a sense of anticipation and excitement which laid the foundations for a successful professional football career.

The striker with the sweet left foot, deft touch and genuine pace was always bound for glory. His goal scoring record at professional level of almost one goal in every three games was a testimony to his ability in the front third of the field, even though he played many games as a wide player.

Despite a satisfying career overseas in Japan and the Middle East, Brosque was content to ply much of his trade in Australia where he became a cult figure at Sydney F.C.

However, Brosque was more than just a footballer because he has always been a great ambassador for the game and on retirement. It was a natural progression for him to enter the media ranks.

In this interview with Roger Sleeman, Alex Brosque discusses his feelings about life after football as he reflects on his playing career, expresses his opinions on the current state of the game and his current role in the public eye as part of the football media ranks.

Roger Sleeman: Looking back on your playing career, what is the feeling of life after football?

Alex Brosque: Fortunately, everything I hoped it would be.

When your career ends, there’s always that uncertainty about what your next step will be and whether you can transition smoothly.

I spoke to a lot of ex players in my last years who advised me to play as long as possible because they said when you retire, it’s not a happy decision.

Three years on, I’ve had more time to spend with my family because travelling nationally and playing overseas take its toll in a long playing career.

Also, I don’t miss the daily grind when your body takes three to four days to recover after playing.

However, I’m very lucky to be involved with the media which has continued my connection with the game.

R.S. Do you believe you achieved enough in your playing career?

A.B. It’s all about perspective and when I was growing up, I was never tipped to be a star.

I played football because I loved it and enjoyed being with my mates.

Things progressed slowly for me and what I achieved was more than what I could’ve imagined as a young kid.

In my first years of senior football, there was hype in one newspaper article that I was the next Harry Kewell.

But I was different to Harry and my personality wasn’t about being the best player at the biggest club.

That characteristic just wasn’t in me.

R.S. So what is that magical something which defines success at the highest level?

A.B. It’s the mental part, not just your technique and work rate.

It’s whether you have that drive and passion to succeeed like a Craig Johnston.

Johnston had the determination to achieve at all costs.

This mental strength was also evident in succeeding generations with players like Jim Patikas and David Mitchell.

Currently, the mental strength of young players isn’t the same because it’s all too easy for them. Previously, parents made big sacrifices for their sons to succeed in football so we made sure we succeeded to justify their investment in us.

R.S. Can you relate your experience when you first went overseas in 2004?

A.B. Off the back of the 2003 World Youth Cup in which I performed well, an agent approached me to go to Feyenoord.

The plan was always to place me on loan  because I was only twenty and  they would’ve had to pay me a minimum wage.

I had a trial at Westerloo in Belgium and when they were happy with me, I signed.

At the time, the NSL was dying ,and the A-League hadn’t commenced, so the only option was to go overseas.

However, I dreaded leaving my family in Australia.

It’s just my personality and I had no regrets leaving Westerloo after one season to return to play in the A-League with Brisbane Roar.

R.S. You established your name in Sydney FC folklore from 2006-2011. What are you memories of that first stint?

A.B. Terry Butcher was the coach in the first year and his coaching style was typically English.

His methods concentrated on a lot of sessions with lots of drills.

He was criticised in many quarters  but I found him to be a great guy with obviously an amazing football pedigree.

I didn’t do well in the first season and only scored five goals, although I had come in as a big signing. That was tough for me.

However, I improved my mental attitude which helped me immensely in the following season.

In that five year stint, I learned much about the game from the different coaches, Terry Butcher, Branko Culina, John Kosmina and Vitezslav Lavika

Lavika particularly was a pleasure to play under with his outstanding knowledge and the fact he was so calm and never raised his voice.

Amongst my team-mates, John Aloisi and Tony Popovic were amazing to play with.

R.S. There was some controversy in your move to Japan with Shimizu S Pulse for the 2011 and 2012 seasons. What were the circumstances surrounding this and what was life like in Japan?

A.B. At the time I still had a contract with Sydney F.C. and a court case ensued.

Eventually, Sydney FC released me and I promised Chairman, Scott Barlow, I would return to the club one day.

Japan has a real football culture and it ranks as one of the best places I’ve played in.

The football was a high standard and the players had great technique and speed of thought whereas we often are just quick and strong in Australia.

Going to training every day was a pleasure and playing with legends of the class of Shinji Ono and Takahara was something else. All players, whether defenders or attackers were technically proficient.

The fans took to me when I ssored a penalty in an early match and although the stadium was only small with a capacity of 15,000, it was always a great atmosphere.

Ironically, my time in Japan brought me to the attention of the Middle East and I was signed by Al Ain in 2012.

This decision was an important financial consideration for my family but it also meant I bypassed the chance to still compete for a spot in the Socceroo squad for the 2014 Brazil World Cup.

The rest is history as I returned to Sydney F.C. in 2014 to see out my career until 2019.

When you have team-mates in the class of Juninho, Steve Corica, Clint Bolton and Terry McFlynn and coaching staff at the level of Graham Arnold and Andrew Clarke, life is made much easier.

R.S. What is your opinion of the signing of Jack Rodwell, Joe Lolley and Robert Mak at Sydney F.C.

A.B. Jack Rodwell if fully fit can be a great asset to Sydney F.C.

I like his aggression and he can make a difference as a leader in the middle of the park as Luke Brattan did before his serious injury.

In reference to Lolley, take the case of Besart Berisha who was a relative unknown before he came to the A-League.

Adam le Fondre has proven what he can do and I believe Lolley can score goals in a competition where he’ll be playing only once a week for the most part.

I’ve seen him score some spectacular goals from long range in the UK.

Robert Mak has a wonderful pedigree and he should be an important part of the squad this season.

However, now that Bobo has retired, I would like to see Patrick Wood get more game time.

R.S. Are you enjoying your time in the media and is the game benefiting from theTen/Paramount coverage?

A.B. Originally, when Fox Sports approached met to become an analyst,  I did it to stay in the game and it developed into more regular work.

Certainly, we need more media like other codes with an emphasis on player profiles.

When I look at the Paramount/Ten Coverage investment, it would be ideal to see them grow the coverage over their five year contract.

The fans need more information and larger coverage because the print media is almost non existent.

Critically, there has to be more discussion round the game and former players need to be more than just a face.

PFA Co-Chief Executive Kathryn Gill on the discussions leading up to Collective Bargaining Agreement

Kathryn Gill

The Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between Football Australia and Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) was recently formed for 2023-2027, bolstering the future for the Socceroos and Matildas.

The CBA will put a number of key changes and initiatives in place – namely payments, commercial partnerships, gender equality, work-life balance and life after football.

As a former Matildas captain, PFA Co-Chief Executive Kathryn Gill has been the perfect role model for those rising up through the ranks, and also in her leadership to turn this CBA into reality.

She spoke with Soccerscene to outline the key milestones achieved for the new CBA and what we can look forward to over the four-year duration.

The path towards the 50:50 payments and the key conversations that made it happen:

Kathryn Gill: Women’s football has undergone a global explosion over the past four to five years. When we signed the previous collective bargaining agreement in 2019, the women’s game was threatening to reach new heights, and our gender equal model reflected that trend.

In 2023, we needed the new agreement to reflect this new reality, and most players were comfortable moving away from a centralised contract structure to a meritocratic payment model, mirroring the Socceroos’ match payments.

Players provided direct feedback in player meetings, steering committee meetings, and in the negotiations with FA to share their views.

The outcome was that the players now have a payment model that incentivises performances, creates competitive tension within the team, and is a fit-for-purpose gender-equal payment structure in line with the Socceroos.

There is still work to do to increase player salaries in club football, but we are hopeful that it will continue to grow in line with global trends.

How revenues will benefit the Australian football community with programs for current and former players:

Kathryn Gill: Under the CBA, a percentage of the players’ share of revenue is redirected into player development support programs and services, which are vital to the ongoing support of players and ensure that football remains a sport of choice for Australian athletes. That money is to support the current national team players. However, for the first time, the CBA guarantees investment in our past players via legacy funding from the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

That funding will ensure our players can stay in their careers longer, help them to prepare for life after football, and enable the PFA and FA to invest in areas that will allow us to support our retired and former professional players better.

The importance of giving back towards the PFA Footballers’ Trust:

Kathryn Gill: Players are deeply passionate about many issues within football and society, from reducing the cost of football to climate change and human rights. Their aim is to make the Footballers’ Trust the most impactful sports charity in Australia. The CBA is a great vehicle to foster the players’ commitment by building a deeper level of impact on many existing and new initiatives across the next four years of the agreement.

There were 40 players in the negotiation process, was there anyone in particular that stood out in discussions?

Kathryn Gill: The CBA is the players’ agreement, so as many players as possible in and around the national teams provided their input into their deal.

The players were constantly at the table and in the negotiations, even though many had to join from overseas at various hours of the morning or evening.

Our Executive Committee Members in particular – Andrew Redmayne, Lydia Williams, Tameka Yallop, Elise Kellond-Knight, Jackson Irvine and Mat Ryan – were deeply involved given their representative roles with the union.

Sydney FC running valuable student programs across local schools

Sydney FC and Sydney Catholic Schools

Sydney FC are teaming up with Sydney Catholic Schools (SCS) to increase support for young footballers both on and off the field.

The club will run a variety of programs within the SCS curriculum, aimed at developing student footballers through specialised, football-related training.

Off the field, Sydney FC will provide students with mentorship programs focused on developing important life skills and enhancing their school education experience whilst being engaged in football.

SCS includes 147 primary and secondary campuses, consisting of almost 73,000 students. The initiative is expected to have a significant impact on those students who want to pursue a career in football.

Sydney FC Chief Executive Officer Mark Aubrey believes the collaboration is part and parcel of the club’s vision.

“Developing young people and young footballers is central to Sydney FC’s values and philosophy,” he said via press release.

“This partnership with SCS allows us to offer more opportunities for young girls and boys to increase their skills and abilities on the football field as well as off it.

“We are looking forward to working with all of the students within the Sydney Catholic Schools system and giving them the specialised learning and mentoring our coaches can provide.”

Declan Donohue, Manager of Sport at SCS, asserts that the new programs will only enhance students’ school experience.

“We are extremely excited to see our students benefit from the unique opportunities that Sydney FC will provide,” Donohue added via media release.

“With Sydney FC’s help, we will be able to offer more support to students who have a passion and talent for football while also helping maintain a strong focus on their education.

“At SCS, we are strong believers in the power of sport to shape character and foster personal growth and this partnership is a perfect embodiment of that.”

Sydney FC’s latest initiative hopes to inspire a new generation of football talent in Australia, whilst ensuring that students continue to immerse themselves in their school education.

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