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Ange Postecoglou’s trail blazing J-League success finally silences the critics

Former Socceroo manager Ange Postecoglou stands just 90 minutes away from potentially the most significant achievement by an Australian football coach.
For the past two seasons, the 54-year-old has been at the helm of J-League club Yokohama F Marinos. With a three point lead on the ladder heading into the final round of play and a comfortable seven goal advantage in the tie-breaking for and against column, Postecoglou’s men appear sure things; a done deal and J-League champions.

Barring some sort of bizarre final day flake out or the most stunning of all victories by their opponent this weekend and second placed FC Tokyo, an Australian manager will for the first time, have his hands on one of the most valuable pieces of silverware in Asian football.

The club is emerging as a potential Japanese powerhouse, with the City Football Group investing in a minority share in 2014. It had an obvious eye towards leading the club back to J-League success after what had been a ten year stretch of disappointment.

Not that the club could ever have been described as a minnow of Japanese football. Three league championships and a J-League Cup in 2001 are testament to its success. However, aside from a second place finish in the league in 2013, Yokohama has recently done little more than sniff around the fringes of the top rungs.

It’s most proud achievement is quite probably the fact they have played in the top flight of Japanese football since its inception. Never suffering relegation and always being competitive.

The involvement of the City Football Group usually signifies immediate change, thanks the increased investment and resourcing undertaken at the clubs with which they become involved. There are now eight such clubs across the globe, with trophies and more trophies a clear motivation for the owners.

A key part of the new investment in Yokohama and a potential change in fortune was to find the right mentor and Postecoglou, after successfully qualifying Australia for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, accepted the challenge laid out before him. He would follow in the footsteps of the now Melbourne City manager Erick Mombaerts in Japan, who was unable to produce the results which City Football Group demanded.

For the Aussie, it required a forgoing of another trip to the world’s biggest football tournament, something for which Postecoglou took much criticism. Many believed there was a sense of desertion. However, the manager had been explicit that his term was to only ever cover the four year period for which he had signed. When family ramifications, an attempt to sure up his long term future and his continued development as a manger were also considered, Postecoglou had a simple choice to make.

Yokohama it was to be and after moments of promise in 2018, his first season saw the club finish in 12th place on the J-League ladder. In truth, there were moments late in the season where they appeared a far better team than that result indicated.

Consistent with his past, Postecoglou was content to experience two steps backwards to eventually take a commanding three forward. It has long been his approach. Postecoglou has a plan, vision and philosophy about football. The chances of him stepping into a role and continuing with the style and methodologies of the previous boss are slim and none.

It was the approach he took with Brisbane Roar and Melbourne Victory in the A-League. It brought about multiple championships. At the helm of the Socceroos he took the same approach, starting from scratch and trialling a vast number of players before settling on the men he knew had completely bought into his way of thinking and could best execute his plan on the big stage.

Such an approach will potentially be the greatest legacy he leaves when the clip board is eventually shelved and his career is done and dusted.  An Australian with the confidence to back his own systems and without the need to replicate the approaches of managers at the helm of some of the biggest European and South American clubs, is a new phenomenon.

Postecoglou never sought the tick of approval from those whose methods are supposedly the ‘right’ and ‘tested’ way to approach the game. He always had a clear plan and had the courage to back it no matter the outcome, fallout or any personal criticism that may come his way because of it.

Even Postecoglou’s critics, and there were many at times, would applaud him for having the courage of his convictions.

Now the Greek born manager will have a rather impressive J-League title to add to his resume. In a week where Soccerscene’s own Philip Panas’ interview with Phil Moss as Australian football coaches deserve better explored some of the challenges faced by domestic coaches, Postecoglou’s success is timely.

With Moss correctly identifying the limited opportunities presented to Australian coaches and the need for a solid support network to aid them in their development and growth, Ange Postecoglou has once again set the bar, broken the glass ceiling and pioneered the way forward.

It is a success most Australian football fans will celebrate, whilst a few doubters may be forced to eat a rather large piece of humble pie.

Western Australia officially declare support for 2023 Women’s World Cup bid

In recent times, the Victorian and South Australian governments have gotten onside with the 2023 Women’s World Cup hosting bid.

The Matildas are one of, if not our most decorated international sides and to say they deserve to host the largest women’s sporting tournament in the world is a severe understatement.

Ever since the bid was initially proposed, there have been strong suggestions that Perth and the state of WA would be integral to the makeup of the tournament.

On Saturday, WA Premier Mark McGowan and the state government officially declared that the state of Western Australia will indeed be a part of the bid to host a Women’s World Cup.

In theory, a Women’s World Cup would 100% work in Australia, despite clashes with the AFL and NRL seasons. With this in mind, matches at the 100,000 capacity MCG seem to be unlikely.

With that in mind, Perth has become a major talking point when it comes to a host city or where a potential final would be held. Now, with the WA government officially on board with the FFA’s proposed bid, that idea has a base.

The sport of soccer has seen a resurgence to a certain degree in recent times. Perth Glory have re-established themselves as an A-League powerhouse and were unlucky not to be crowned champions last season.

But when it comes to soccer in WA, the main talking point is Sam Kerr.

The Matildas captain is one of the poster girls for women’s soccer all across the globe. She recently made international headlines by signing for Chelsea’s women’s team in England. The Blues currently lead the FA Women’s National League, the Premier League equivalent for women.

She has been and continues to be an inspiration for up and coming soccer players in Australia, especially in her home state of Western Australia.

McGowan subsequently spoke about how it’s a potentially fantastic reward for the Matildas, but how beneficial it could be for his state.

“The WA Government is very excited at the prospect of being part of the FIFA Women’s World Cup™ in 2023,” McGowan said.

“We have also partnered with FFA to secure at least two Socceroos games in Perth, including two guaranteed World Cup qualifiers next year and in 2021.

“The benefits to our State will be significant, in terms of having a major economic impact on and providing a massive increase in exposure to the rest of the world.”

We have previously spoken about the prospect of hosting a Women’s World Cup Down Under in 2023 and how it’s benefits would have no end.

The amount of aspiring female players will skyrocket, with many hoping to emulate the likes of Kerr, Lisa De Vanna, Steph Catley and Chloe Logarzo.

As Premier McGowan outlined, the increase in exposure across the globe would do a world of good. The Matildas are already a highly respected side, currently ranked 8th in the world by FIFA and ahead of international footballing powerhouses like Brazil, Spain and Italy.

The game in Australia would benefit hugely and more fans from around the world would start watching our domestic competitions, both male and female.

Compare this to the way in which Qatar became the number one topic everywhere when it was named the host of the 2022 Men’s World Cup.

When soccer fans think of Qatar, they automatically think to how they are hosting that competition, as well as how they recently stunned the continent of Asia by winning this year’s Asian Cup back in February.

The tournament is still two and a half years away and yet, talk about them and the tournament still continues. Imagine when the tournament actually gets underway.

The bid continues to attract major stakeholders and more and more people are getting #onside with it. It goes to show that women’s sport isn’t just emerging from the shadows, it’s becoming a genuine revolution and now, it’s viewed upon by the majority as just as important as the men’s game.

Let’s hope that the 2023 bid is successful because it would be the sustained interest that soccer in this country needs.

 

Football Queensland appoint Jacqui Hurford as State Referee Manager

Football Queensland (FQ) have announced the appointment of Jacqui Hurford as the new State Referee Manager.

As part of the 2020-2022 Strategic Plan for football in Queensland, the appointment of Hurford as State Referee Manager is one of the key initiatives already into affect along with others that are set to be launched in the coming months concentrating on improving recruitment, retention and support for referees in the state.

FQ’s General Manager of Operations Murray Bird spoke about how Hurford’s appointment will help shape the future of refereeing, by building on the number of quality referees and coaches across the state.

“I am delighted to welcome Jacqui to the Football Queensland team; she will bring a wealth of knowledge as a former international FIFA referee, and from her current roles as instructor/assessor for FFA and AFC and Westfield W-League Referee Coach,” Bird said.

“Jacqui’s appointment aligns with a focus on bettering the experience for all involved in the game as outlined in FQ’s strategic plan, and will see her take on a community-focused leadership role.

“We intend to double the number of registered referees by 2022, which will require ongoing consultation and collaboration with regional referee coordinators to ensure we recruit and retain officials to serve and enhance the game.

“We also want to increase the number of women and girls officiating across the state, and Jacqui is a great example for women and girls getting into the game.”

Hurford spoke about the role she will play with the challenges and opportunities she’ll take out of it.

“Football Queensland’s commitment to significant reform in the referee space was something that attracted me to this role,” she said.

“There is a shortage of match officials across the state and I understand that addressing this and driving participation and retention of referees will be a key focus of the position.

“FQ will be employing referee coaches for the NPL/FQPL/NPLW in the coming weeks. My role will entail working closely with those appointments to improve officiating standards in the state’s premier leagues.

“I will also be working hard on bridging the gap between the referee community and FQ’s member clubs and zones.

“We all need to work together and referees are an important piece in unifying the game to ensure that Queensland remains a leader in officiating both nationally and internationally.”

Hurford will officially take her position from Thursday the 9th of January 2020.

Source: https://footballqueensland.com.au/2019/11/29/football-queensland-state-referee-manager-appointed/ 

Phil Moss: Australian football coaches deserve better

Phil Moss

Former Central Coast Mariners coach Phil Moss claims football coaches in Australia deserve more respect and a higher level of support.

Speaking exclusively to Soccerscene, the former A-League coach claimed associations such as Football Coaches Australia (FCA), which he is currently president of, will improve the conditions and reputation of coaches in Australia.

“I think the main aim (of FCA) is to wrap coaches with a support mechanism, give them a collective voice and really drive towards a level of respect for coaches that we haven’t seen in this country,” he said.

“We’re always the easy option when things go wrong.

“There’s an old saying, when the team’s going well the players are great, but when the team’s losing it’s because the coach doesn’t know what he is doing.”

Moss had various coaching stints in his career at Dee Why FC, Northern Spirit youth (assistant), Manly United and the Olyroos (assistant) before moving to the Mariners in 2010.

He took over from Graham Arnold after being an assistant coach for the club in the three years prior, which included a championship winning season in 2012-2013.

Moss led the Mariners to a third placed finish in his first season as head coach in 2013-14.

However, he was eventually sacked near the end of his second season in charge after disagreements with the owner.

“We had a fantastic first season, we had a lot of success, we missed the grand final by one game,” Moss said.

“We also missed out on the second round of the ACL by a point and then we sold a lot of players. In the January transfer window of the following season, I think I lost six players in that period and that proved to be really tough.

“Things spiralled out a bit from there and the owner and I fell out. There was only going to be one winner in that situation.”

Moss believes a lack of appropriate professional support at the time of his removal, planted the seeds for his eventual involvement in FCA.

Central Coast ended up compensating Moss in the region of around $500,000 according to The Daily Telegraph, after his case for wrongful dismissal was settled before a court date. (Moss would go on to be an assistant coach at Sydney FC in 2017).

“I had my family, my closest friends, my mobile phone and a pretty good lawyer and that was it. That’s where FCA sort of morphed from.

“My mantra is to make sure no Australian coach is ever in the same situation I was in. Plenty of others before me were in (that situation) with no real support.”

Steps in the right direction have been taken to improve the employment conditions and general well-being of coaches through work driven by the association.

FCA recently released the findings of a study completed by the University of Queensland on these factors.

The report showcases data which highlights the need for contractual guidelines to be implemented, as well as standardising grievance and dispute resolution procedures, among other things.

FCA hopes to address these issues and move quickly into a process to fix them.

“We’re fighting for better conditions for coaches and probably a bit more uniformity,” claimed Moss.

“We are working hard on a well-being program for coaches, to support coaches in and out of jobs and in that transition into a job and out of a job. So, all those things are really important to us.”

The association was also in contact with the FFA and A-League clubs, before the start of this A-League season.

Greg O’Rourke and the FFA were kind enough to give us a slot during their agenda with the coaches.

“That was an opportunity for us to ask the coaches what their issues were, going into the season.

“We’re in the process of sharing that information with FFA and working through that, and not just with the FFA but obviously the new operating company of the independent A-league.”

The organisation has a seat at the table in the discussion for the introduction of a national second division, thanks to FFA Board member Remo Nogarotto.

Nogarotto is the current chair of the National Second Division Working Group.

Moss is thankful for FCA’s inclusion in the conversation, in what will provide elite Australian coaches with more job opportunities in the future.

“Full credit to Remo and his working group, for seeing it fit to include coaches.

“At the end of the day, coaches are responsible for the happiness and the satisfaction of four key stakeholders, the ownership and boards, the dressing room, the fans and the media.

“So, when you’ve got that sort of vested interest in the game, holistically, it seems really illogical not to have coaches part of the discussion and part of the decision-making process around the game.”

After being formally elected as president of FCA in July 2018, Moss was re-elected at an AGM in August of this year, in what was a proud moment for him.

Speaking about the privilege of leading FCA, Moss said: “It’s a massive honour. Probably aside from coaching in the A-League as a head coach, it’s right up there.”

© 2019 Soccerscene Industry News. All Rights reserved.

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