Football NSW launches partnership with High Performance specialist Dr Craig Duncan

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.

Staff Writer
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Parramatta City FC: Celebrating 50 years and a place to truly call home

As a Club entrenched in history, Parramatta City FC has secured a double milestone in its future towards providing a football team for the region.

For many years, Parramatta City had no authentic home ground, having been based in the neighbouring suburb of Rydalmere.

However, coinciding with the half century of existence is the confirmed move to Old Saleyards Reserve in the suitably located heartland of North Parramatta.

Thanks to the individuals and committee members and their negotiations with City of Parramatta Council, the new fields bring a range of benefits – such as increased capacity for participation, improved facilities and enhanced community engagement.

Two of those committee members to turn the plans into reality are Club Secretary Lou Mantzos and President Angelo Aronis.

Having been at the Club since day one in 1974 from their junior days in numerous capacities, both are still heavily involved in driving future growth in participants in junior and senior level.

Mantzos described what it was like at Rydalmere and how the move across to Old Salesyards Reserve unfolded.

Training at Eric Primrose Reserve in Rydalmere.

“We had been at Rydalmere since 1981 and it’s an older area that is now growing with some new housing,” he told Soccerscene.

“However, the only way for us to survive long-term was being back in Parramatta, rather than competing with Rydalmere FC who are based up the road and with brand new facilities.

“The breakthrough occurred last year with executive general managers of council in the parks & recreation area.

“We had follow up meetings early this year and eventually our mission was accomplished in leasing Old Saleyards Reserve which is a nine-year-old facility.

“The fields are in excellent shape and rated as one of three A-grade grounds in the Parramatta precinct.

“We now have a dozen teams training and playing at the venue and once the junior rugby league moves across to Doyle Park nearby, we will be permanently based at our new home in 2025.”

The new home of Old Saleyards Reserve.

Similarly to all clubs involved in the negotiation process, challenges are always going to occur, whether it be due to capacity or financially.

Aronis shared his involvement at the Club alongside Mantzos during a difficult period.

“We came into it 4-5 years ago as a sub-committee, working on the new grounds and other issues involved in the Club,” he said to Soccerscene.

“The previous committees did their best in trying times, worked hard, kept the club afloat especially during the Covid pandemic but lost numerous teams during and post this period, and potentially other clubs had similar problems.

“It did make us realise that Rydalmere was not a growth area.

“For example, across Silverwater Road, Newington and Sydney Olympic Park precinct was thriving and nobody wanted to cross over and get to us which is essentially walking distance.

“The other side of Silverwater Road, which includes Wilson Park, now NSW cricket academy, was growing exponentially and the previous committees just weren’t able to attract the numbers we needed.”

The Covid-19 pandemic was not immune to Parramatta City, who needed to navigate through postponed games and seasons.

It presented the confronting reality that even a Club like Parramatta City could fold due to mounting hardship and pressure.

However, Aronis and Mantzos persevered and played a crucial role in keeping the Club afloat.

It was one initiative in particular that Mantzos believes changed the Club’s fortunes entirely.

“In September last year, after failed attempts due to Covid-19 lockdowns, we finally held a reunion game to bring back some familiar faces,” he said.

“It was Andrew Charlton (Federal MP for Parramatta) who assisted with funding for some new equipment and together helped bring many former players back to participate on the day.

“There was a collective buy-in from all participants – the former Parramatta City state league (a powerhouse during the 90’s) and all-age players paid $20 to enter as a way to raise funds and interest.

“We got 40 players on the day and the game attracted a lot of attention as people started talking about it and that was the reason why we did it – we wanted to get traction back rather than see a slow demise.

“We had a ‘Beyond 50’ push that really urged Club members to get behind us and do what they could to keep us around for the next 50 years.”

The reunion game welcomed many familiar faces.

The reunion proved a major hit, paving the way for long-term success in participation.

Aronis added what the overall impact was like post-event and a great indication of what we expect to see.

“We had two teams in 2023 as a band-aid solution, and if it stayed that way, we would have had no choice but in folding the Club,” he said.

“For this season, the number of teams is up at 12 and the reunion was one of the springboard we needed as we reached that figure without really trying.

“Now, we anticipate that we will double that figure by 2025 which would be a fantastic result.

“We were really proud of the efforts of all involved on reunion day and every bit that went into it was worth it.”

“In closing, I sincerely thank all those individuals and recent committees of this proud club for the contributions.”

Football West achieves incredible growth of player registrations

Football West have confirmed that player registrations in the state have reached an all-time high after passing the 50,000 mark for the first time.

The number of players in Western Australia registered on Play Football currently sits on 50,231 – 18% up on the same time in 2023 and also includes over 10,000 female players, another record figure and 34% increase from last year.

There are also 3,806 registered coaches in 2024, a massive 74% increase of last year’s figure which stood at 2,226 coaches.

Referee numbers are also 25% higher than at the same time 12 months ago, 408 in 2023 while in 2024 it is 510.

Football West CEO Jamie Harnwell was ecstatic to confirm this new milestone being hit in the state amongst other participation records.

“These numbers are incredible, and we are delighted to share them with the WA football community,” Harnwell said in a statement.

“We were expecting a spike after the success of the FIFA Women’s World Cup. However, this is a wider success story and the result of much hard work done across clubs, associations and the Football West team over a number of years.

“We also know that there is a lot of work to be done to ensure these record numbers are not a one-off, rather part of a long-term growth that sees football continue to be the No1 participation sport in Western Australia.

“This includes tackling the extra demands on clubs by providing adequate facilities, including more female-friendly facilities. This will help attract new people and hopefully see them develop a lifelong love of football.

“This is why Football West is currently carrying out a new facilities audit across the state. We are also working closely with the State Government and the Local Government Authorities to identify key areas required for investment.”

Football West are doing a fantastic job in providing adequate funding at grassroots levels for facilities, encouraging the youth to play the sport and ensuring that across all divisions of participation there are more willing to sign up.

As Harnwell mentioned, it’s much more than the sudden boom of the Women’s World Cup that was expected but rather years of hard work and great decisions that have led to these promising statistics and the plan now is to sustain this growth to hopefully become the most played sport in the state.

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