FCA CEO Kelly Rourke discusses future ambitions for Australian football coaching

Kelly Rourke

Football Coaches Australia (FCA) CEO Kelly Rourke has certainly had an unorthodox career on her way to taking over this role in December last year, but her wealth of sports administration experience paired with her glaring passion for football promises to help coaches in Australia progress further than ever before.

Off the back of the Matildas World Cup success and after state federation annual reports suggesting a sizeable increase in the number of coaches participating, Australian coaching education and wellbeing has never been more of an integral part of our local game.

In an interview with Soccerscene, Rourke discusses her career journey to the present day, her overall ambition for the future of local coaching in this role and how she will empower female coaches as the game surges in popularity.

About yourself, how was the journey to becoming FCA CEO? What roles have you done and what is your background in football?

My background is in policing believe it or not. Majority of my career to date has been involved in various roles of policing from patrol work to investigations so that’s the big backbone of my career and is what ultimately brought me over to Australia from England. I came out and joined the police here, got recruited whilst I was still in England because they were on the search for specialist skills.

I’ve been involved in sport my entire life. Back in the day when I was a teenager, I played for Bradford City and Huddersfield Town so I’ve been involved in football for as long as I can remember as a player. I eventually got stolen by Rugby League and played for England.

When I got to Australia and left the police, I got into various different jobs including a Management Executive role, one with Tabcorp and ultimately, I ended up becoming an administrator for the NRL which is where I get my sports admin background from.

I’m also a chairwoman for a centre in South Australia called The Marjorie Jackson-Nelson Centre for Women’s Sport which is a government-funded project that will initially go for four years where we are doing a 12-month course for females to try and bridge the gender gap across all sports, all levels and all roles.

It’s not been an obvious career where I’ve worked in sport or football my entire life, but football is by far the first sport that grabbed by attention, and my career background would probably surprise a few people.

Do you have an overall plan or ambition for coaches in Australia as the CEO of FCA?

I think we need to try and offer something like the PFA does, I think a big goal for us this year that we will try to achieve is standardised contracts in the APL and NPL. We need to be securing the futures of our coaches in order to keep the talent in Australia and also to foster coaches from Europe and across the world to come over here, and that only happens with the introduction of standardised coaching contracts across the professional leagues.

That includes formalised grievance procedures, dispute resolution, tribunals. I just think it is long overdue, we really need to be safeguarding the development of our coaches but also their wellbeing. That’s got to be our starting block, we need to secure that and then hopefully we can float it out to the APL and across community football. If we don’t take care of their wellbeing, we are going to lose coaches and without coaches, there is no football.

Working with the A-Leagues and the FA on coach development is one of our most important goals. We’ve got to be driving change forward and offering similar services to the PFA who are a great organisation to learn from.

For the local game, what’s FCA’s role in encouraging a growth in the number of local coaches?

We do a lot of coach education so the FA have moved to the UEFA way of coach development, so it used to be that coaches obtained points in order to retain their licences but now its hours. We’ve been working closely with the FA to understand what it looks like and ensure that we can deliver meaningful coach education to our coaches, and we do that free of charge to our members. We host workshops and webinars with top coaches to help with that.

As a woman in power, are there any moves that you’re making to bridge the gender gap for coaching in Australian football?

I’m not sure when FCA brought me in they had a female in mind, they just wanted fresh eyes and someone enthusiastic, and I do this role because I love it and am passionate about the game, I still play and heavily involved with coaches and community football. They wanted to bring someone who had the knowledge of the game that’s got a lot of sports administration experience behind them which I do have.

The FA have invited me to a Women’s football summit in June and I think that really shows there is progress with the FA for the fact I’ve been invited. Obviously, I want to increase opportunities for our female coaches, we’ve only got two head coaches in the A-Leagues. It was good to see Emily Husband get announced as coach of the year and we’ve got Kat Smith who didn’t have a job until a few weeks out from the season when Western United snapped her up, so we really want to drive and show the female coaches the pathway.

Being a woman does it encourage that? Of course it does for me because I know what it’s like to be an athlete or a coach and not have those opportunities so a big part of my role will involve creating more stabilised roles for our coaches but also creating the pathway for women to nurture the talent we’ve got.

We need to see more female coaches in NPL teams and in the A-Leagues for sure and I think Emily [Husband] winning coach of the year is a great start, I can’t celebrate that enough.

2024 PFA Players Agents Conference to kick off mid-July at Veriu Hotel

Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) has confirmed that the 2024 PFA Player’s Agent Conference will be held on the July 19 at the Veriu Hotel in Queen Victoria Market.

This conference is a longstanding initiative between the PFA and the Australian Football Agents Association (AFAA).

This official conference is an opportunity for discussion between the players’ representative union and the many accredited agents and experts in the football industry.

Here the floor will be open for conversation around the tactics and strategies of managing and encouraging the huge talent within Australian football.

Some of the ascribed organisations involved in this conference include with the PFA, Football Australia, the Australian Football Agents Association and FIFPRO.

This is a key space for all parties to deliver their opinions and guidance on how best to amplify the opportunities in football and maintain the well-being of the players and industry

This includes topics such as the latest National Team CBA, trends in Asian football and the management mechanisms of players and agents.

Within the conference, there will be dialogue on key issues that have been constant in this industry including:

  • Agent Regulations
  • State of the game
  • CBA Analysis
  • National Team CBA Update
  • Commercial strength of athletes
  • Tax and financial advice
  • Trends in Asian football
  • Legal update
  • TransferRoom

All these topics are flagged by both player unions and agents as areas from which the collaboration needs to be further explored and resolved with all parties satisfied.

That’s why these conferences are held in such high esteem within the footballing community and a big step in productivity strategies.

“Football agents are an important part of the football industry,” PFA Co-CEO Kate Gill stated via media release.

“The PFA Player Agents conference, in partnership with the Australian Football Agents Association, is a platform that allows for ongoing collaboration and dialogue on emerging issues, reform and regulations within our sport.

“We recognise that a better-informed industry leads to better outcomes for all.”

The conference will be followed closely, and more information/outcomes will be presented when the conference concludes.

Key Information:

Venue: Veriu Hotel, Queen Victoria Market. Melbourne
Date: Friday, 19th July 2024
Time: 9:30 am to 5:00 pm

Football NSW promote developmental opportunities in the Riverina region

Football NSW representatives have visited the Riverina regions of Albury-Wodonga, Wagga Wagga and Griffith providing several developmental opportunities to participants, clubs and associations in the area.

During this three-day trip, over 200 local players between the ages of 9 and 13 attended player clinics, more than 30 participants underwent coaching education sessions and 25 coach and association representatives attended the club development workshops.

Club Changer, Football Australia’s club developmental program designed to support all community clubs with access to support specific to their club’s needs, was also involved throughout the club development sessions in Albury and Wodonga. Clubs from Football NSW and Football Victoria attended to learn more about the resources and support from Club Changer while also planning for long-term sustainability and success.

Female Development Officer at Football Wagga Wagga, Stacey Collins, was proud to see the amount of female representation during the club developmental sessions:

“It was brilliant to have many clubs in the room for the club development session and to discuss the development of female football with these clubs,” Collins said via Football NSW media release.

“The coach education session was also predominantly female coaches, which is great to see.”

Football NSW Regional Development Officer (Riverina), Daniel Lucas was impressed with the response throughout the three-day tour:

“This shows a thirst for coaches who are wanting to continue their development after recently completing their MiniRoos and Foundation of Football coaching courses earlier this year,” he added via Football NSW press release.

Football NSW is continuing with these coach and club development programs over the next few months where they will travel to regional Western and Southern regions of NSW.

Looking at the recent responses, Football NSW’s club and coach development workshops show there is a real desire to expand the game in regional areas of Australia. If we see a similar reaction in the Western and Southern regional areas of NSW, it proves there should be more overall support when it comes to football development all over the country no matter the area of the club.

Most Popular Topics

Editor Picks

Send this to a friend