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Football NSW launches partnership with High Performance specialist Dr Craig Duncan

Soccer Coach Talk

One of Asian football’s leading High-Performance specialists Craig Duncan has begun a new relationship with Football NSW. As a world renowned and respected figure in the areas of both athletic performance and preparation, Duncan will work closely with the governing body in an attempt to provide advice and support for players, coaches and parents alike.

Providing a clear and logical path through often complex, competitive and challenging junior football structures, Duncan’s work is based on a simple clarification and a reminder of why the game is played in the first instance.

Highlighting the often vicarious motivations of parents and coaches, Duncan, a former representative goal-keeper, sees football as an activity initially undertaken for the raw pleasure of kicking a ball and the enjoyment of being in the company of peers. He insightfully reminds all those involved in the game that the sheer joy of football can often be high jacked by over-zealous coaches and the lofty expectations of parents, who perhaps failed to meet their own as players some years earlier.

A lecturer at the Australian Catholic University and after stints working with Sydney FC, the Western Sydney Wanderers and the Socceroos during their successful Asian Cup campaign of 2015, Duncan’s experience and knowledge in both the successful preparation for and playing of the game of football make him one of the most respect Australian voices in Sports Science.

Duncan’s formal partnership with Football NSW will involve a collection of informative videos and recorded seminars posted on the bodies’ official website. The content will cover a range of topics relevant to young players and those involved in junior football.

The basics of physical preparation for football will feature; areas such as hydration, sleep and rest as well as successful strategies to look after a young athletes muscles via effective exercise and stretching practices.

However, it is Duncan’s emphasis on creating an awareness of what an appropriate perspective on the career and performance of a young footballer should look like for a parent and/or coach, is potentially the most important part of his work and message.

Such was the basis of his presentation to an interested and enthusiastic audience at the home of Football NSW at Valentine Park in Sydney’s north-west some weeks back. Dr Duncan’s presentation has now been uploaded and can be viewed at;

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DYXAg3xC1YE&feature=youtu.be

Based on a lifetime involved in the game, Duncan’s words and the effective visual aids used to simplify and enunciate his message, create a powerful insight into the pressures and expectations often placed on young footballers by the adults surrounding them.

Using alarming and dramatic recreations of abusive coaches, anecdotal tales of parents blinded by a personally driven dream for their child and the harrowing effect such behavior can have on a young player, Duncan is able to convey his message with clarity and effectiveness.

Incorporating personal experiences from his own time as a player and coach when involved in the football journey of his own child adds a weight of validity and value to his presentation that would strike a chord with any parent.

Sadly, his message will not alleviate poor behavior on the sidelines, nor immediately eliminate parents less interested in their children’s success that their own reputation in the game. However, as he correctly points out, raising awareness to such issues and reaching out to others, armed with accurate information and a considered perspective is an important step in reshaping expectations and behavior.

The path through junior football can be a difficult one to tread for parents wishing success for their child. Dr Duncan’s advice on the journey is incredibly valuable in mapping a course that benefits not only the mums and dads on the sidelines, those charged with coaching young athletes, but also the players themselves.

Stuart is a writer, journalist, blogger and social commentator based in Sydney, Australia. His work can also be found on theRoar.com.au, zerotackle.com.au, openforum.com and on his website, stuartthomas.com.au. You can connect with him on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

FFA launches online football resource for schools

Football Federation Australia have announced it has released a new interactive online football resource for primary school students.

Titled the ‘Schools Football Workbook’, the resource gives children and their teachers the opportunity to learn and become fans of the world game.

The online resource covers four separate areas:

Active: Focuses on physical literacy, with students also learning the value of good nutritional habits and eating practices.

Experience: Based off FFA’s MiniRoos program, students can complete footballs skills and challenges via video tutorials.

Transition: This section helps individuals identify pathways to access their local football club and link-up with member federations.

Fans: Students can participate in interactive projects with the aim of learning about the A-League, W-League, Socceroos and Matildas.

Speaking about the workbook, FFA CEO James Johnson claims he is pleased with what has been produced.

“This is an important piece of work to bring football to the classroom via an interactive, digital resource that will prove invaluable to primary schools as they work through the COVID-19 situation. It will enable boys and girls to remain connected with football, while staying active, healthy and happy,” Johnson said in a statement on Monday.

“We have taken a whole of game approach in the development of the workbook and I’d like to acknowledge the great contribution the Hyundai A-League and Westfield W-League clubs and the member federations make in the schools’ space, and the effort they’ve put into this project alongside FFA.

“This workbook will complement the work our stakeholders undertake with schools and will enhance football’s future delivery model.

“We may be moving to a relaxation of social isolation measures over the coming weeks, but we believe this workbook will be of great benefit to schools, teachers and students long after the coronavirus pandemic is over.”

Sport Australia General Deputy Manager of Participation James Ceely praised football’s governing body for the initative they have shown.

“It’s great to see Football Federation Australia embedding physical literacy into resources for schools,” he said.

“Through these fun and engaging football activities, children can develop the skills, behaviours and attitudes they need to be physically active for life.”

Schools and teachers can register and download the workbook here.

Gary Cole: There is no better time than now to unify the game

Socceroos great Gary Cole feels it is now time to “find a way to heal” the wounds of the past and move forward for the good of the game.

In a wide-ranging interview with Soccerscene, the former NSL striker believes FFA CEO James Johnson is the right man to lead Australian football into a new era, incorporating “the best of both” the old NSL and A-League.

“I think James has been an absolute breath of fresh air,” he said.

“You couldn’t have wished a worse start on a person to take over that role.

“My hat’s off to him and I just can’t applaud him enough for the start he has made and his willingness to listen and engage.”

Cole remains involved with the game in some capacity, after being elected as a member of Football Coaches Australia’s Executive Committee, late last year.

The 64-year-old has a strong belief that coaching education in Australia needs to improve and was a major factor behind his decision to put his name forward for FCA.

“Coaches have never had a seat at the table (in the game) for the last 30 odd years,” Cole said.

“Today (with FCA), we’ve got a good working relationship with James, Chris Nikou and the FFA board.

“We are talking regularly, having zoom meetings; they understand that coaches are an important part of the game. It’s absolutely terrific.”

Throughout his coaching career, Cole would go on to be an assistant to Socceroos coach Frank Arok, as well as managing various clubs in the old National Soccer League and Victorian Premier League.

The ex-Heidelberg player admits he was fortunate to land his first coaching gig, as an assistant to Ron Smith at the AIS in 1987.

“I was always going to go into coaching and I was incredibly lucky that in my last year of playing as a 30-year-old at Preston, I went and did my Senior License (equivalent of an A Coaching License today).

“That was at the end of my career, then within six months I applied for and accepted a role as Ron’s assistant at the AIS. So that was absolutely incredible.

“At the age of 30 I had a full-time job in coaching and I have to say at the time I didn’t realise how lucky I was to do that.”

The mentorship he received and experience he gained from working alongside Smith, has led Cole to question the way Australia develops coaches in recent times.

“I had an incredible coach and mentor in Ron who I worked with day in, day out. So, not only did I just complete a coaching license, I got to practice on a daily basis with someone there who would coach me as a coach and answer my questions.

“When I left and came back to Victoria because my mum developed cancer, I coached Heidelberg in the old NSL and I still had my coaching mentor on the other end of the phone.

“Nowadays, most modern coaches don’t have that.

“We’ve done a terrific job at getting thousands of coaches through coaching courses. But, getting a coaching license is a bit like being an 18-year-old and getting your driver’s license, it gives you access to the roads but it doesn’t make you a great driver.”

The AIS program was recently brought back into focus after a panel of six former ‘golden generation’ Socceroos heralded the setup and its role in their football development, in a recent Optus Sport discussion.

Cole echoed their sentiments claiming “It was integral to the development of players at that point in time.”

“Those guys all had wonderful talent but what Ron Smith did was turn the AIS into perhaps the best professional finishing school for athletes that we have ever seen.

“It was a wonderful opportunity for both players and coaches to develop and I was very sorry to see it go.”

When quizzed on the possibility of a reformation of the program, the Socceroos goal scorer believes the ship has sailed on that front, due to the current structure implemented in the game.

“Most countries around the world now have some sort of national coaching setup and some of those have a system like Clairefontaine in France, which is still there,” he said.

“But we are so different.”

According to the former Socceroos assistant, a country such as Belgium which is much smaller in size, makes it significantly easier to introduce a national setup.

That’s not the case in Australia, however.

“Here, we are so vast in distance and travel. I think it would be very difficult, because the model has been…to help A-League clubs develop academies and then…help NPL clubs develop academies.

“There are challenges around the depth and quality of the coaching talent, as well as getting kids in there. It’s not simple to answer.”

After an extremely decorated playing career in the NSL and the Socceroos, Cole looks back fondly on his time in the old national competition.

Memories of his playing days at Heidelberg stick out vividly in his mind, particularly the large crowds that would gather for matches against South Melbourne.

“It was a tough competition, played in smaller stadiums. We would have 15, 20, 25,000 people at Middle Park or Olympic Park (against South Melbourne).

“It was a real derby like Liverpool against Everton. You could have a terrible season, but if you won the derby then you are everyone’s hero.

“There was a great passion to it.”

Most NSL clubs at the time were ethnically based, which created distinct atmospheres at the grounds.

“You can remember the sights and sounds,” Cole said.

“Will Hastie (Executive Manager of Football at FV) and I were having a conversation last year, (saying) you could remember the smells from the different cultures.

“That multicultural background that it gave us was absolutely incredible.”

Cole described the transition between the end of the NSL and start of the A-League as a divisive period, which the game must now, after 15 years, finally try to put to bed.

“I loved the NSL, but so much was made out of the crowd trouble. It was bad at different times and that was a part of killing it off unfortunately.

“But by the same token, (when the A-League was created) it became ‘old soccer against new football’. It drove a stake in the heart of the game and developed this disconnect straight away.

“Not only because the (NSL) clubs couldn’t play in the top division, but we did away with the history. It was like the history of Australian football, for a long time, kicked off in 2004.”

In that year, Cole was appointed Melbourne Victory’s inaugural Football Operations Manager, a position he would hold for seven years, with the Victory winning two championships in that time.

There were certainly challenges in that period, including a board which was initially not comprised of football people.

Speaking about his time at Victory, Cole said it was “perhaps the most exciting and remarkable thing I’ve ever done.”

“I’m blessed that Ernie Merrick came on board. We brought in some great players, we developed some great talent and I’m very proud of that unique opportunity.”

Whilst a fantastic achievement, it would pale in comparison to the proudest moment in his football career.

“I can close my eyes and think about my first game for the Socceroos, standing on the pitch before the game against Greece in Melbourne.

“When you stand there with a green and gold shirt on and the national anthem plays, the hair on the back of your neck stands up.

“And then, you realise you’ve got an opportunity to represent your country.

“I’ve got a lot of things to be proud about in the game, but that for me is by far and away perhaps the best day.”

Football Queensland moves towards a return of football

Football Queensland (FQ) have confirmed it has drafted ‘Return to Football in Queensland’ guidelines in preparation of a recommencement of football activity across the state, previously set for July 1.

FQ CEO Robert Cavallucci believes the organisation will be prepared for the return of competitions in Queensland.

“The health and wellbeing of the football family and all Queenslanders remains our absolute priority,” he said.

“Whilst the exact date for any recommencement is subject to further relaxation of Government restrictions, governments are now looking to community sports like football as their commencement is critical to the ongoing health and wellbeing of Queenslanders. FQ will be ready and will ensure football is well prepared for a return.

“To ensure any return to football is undertaken in the safest way possible, we will continue to collaborate and consult with authorities to further develop the set of guidelines that will advise clubs, venues and participants on the expectations and protocols required to get playing and to help keep participants safe.

“FQ further welcomes the release of the National Principles for Sport and Recreation by the Federal Government and the National Cabinet yesterday. We will closely monitor the latest advice and further shape the ‘Return to Football in Queensland’ guidelines by continuing to work with the state and federal government and medical authorities.

“We will be further engaging with clubs across the state in the coming weeks to discuss the guidelines alongside a series of competition scenarios and formats that have also been developed.

“In the meantime, FQ urges all Queenslanders and football family members to download the COVIDSafe app, listen to advice from authorities and continue practising social distancing.

“We each have an important part to play in stopping the spread of COVID-19 and getting back to enjoying the game we love,” Cavallucci concluded.

© 2019 Soccerscene Industry News. All Rights reserved.

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