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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.”

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Philip Panas is a sports journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy and industry matters, drawing on his knowledge and passion of the game.

Football Coaches Australia launch XV Essential Skills program

Football Coaches Australia and XVenture are launching its FCA XV Essential Skills education and professional development program.

Football Coaches Australia (FCA), in partnership with XVenture, is excited to launch its FCA XV Essential Skills education and professional development program.

A global first, this is a revolutionary new coach education and development program delivered via a rich and engaging virtual world learning experience. The program will be readily accessible for all coaches, from local football to elite football.

The series of modules aim to develop the ‘essential skills’ of coaching – Emotional intelligence, Leadership, Communication, Culture and Resilience. It is filled with contemporary examples from football globally, as well as providing an overview of key research across the five modules.

The modules contain 20 subjects presented in a variety of fully integrated and multi-media style materials in the form of videos, articles, activities and podcasts and connected tests to confirm understanding of key concepts.

Exterior of FCA College

FCA CEO Glenn Warry outlined the potential that the FCA XV Essential Skills program has in growing the reputation of Australian football domestically and internationally.

“Our vision as an organisation is to promote the strength and reputation of football in Australia, and the reputation of Australian football on the world stage, he said.

“Our partnership with XVenture is going to enable the FCA to position itself as a world leader in the delivery of unique professional development experiences for football coaches.”

FCA President Phil Moss will introduce the course to participating coaches as they make their way through the virtual world of the FCA XV College foyer. Moss is enthusiastic about the exciting opportunities offered by the alignment between FCA and XV.

“This is a world first opportunity presented initially to Australian coaches but accessible to every coach around the football universe,” he said.

“At the very heart of everything FCA stands for is ‘for Coaches, by coaches’ – so this an incredible opportunity to enhance the continuing education around every coach’s journey no matter what level they are working at. It is something we, along with our highly valued partners XVenture, are just so proud to present.

“The global pandemic has taught us to be more innovative than ever before & these Essential Skills programs, inside our very own FCA College, is taking that innovation to heights never before seen!”

Speaking on a webinar last Monday evening, XVenture founder Prof. Mike Conway acknowledged the importance coaches have – not just in developing individual talent, but in guiding and ensuring the wellbeing of their players.

“Coaches are taught to have amazing skillsets on technical, tactical and physical, they’ve had that for a long time… where I try to bring in a new & different perspective in the elite sport environment is in the areas of emotional intelligence, leadership and communication. Where teams apply these skills typically there are higher performance levels,” he said.

“If you go into the Socceroos camp it’s a beautiful environment. We’ve got to make sure that players want to be there as they’re traveling all over the world for 10 to 15 days at a time, so we’ve got to make it a really positive environment and how we do that is part of the various different subjects.

“This education platform is a big project and I’m massively committed to football, I’ve grown up with it and so I see the power and the strength of what we can do when we’ve got a great coach working with great young kids, we can make a lot of change.”

Each of the modules were constructed in accordance with the principles of the Attention, Generation, Emotion and Spacing (AGES) model in an effort to ensure coaches learn quickly and are able to retain information far beyond finishing the course. The platform will include a total of 103 subjects which will take between 10 to 15 minutes each to complete.

Warry, in speaking on the modern approach of the FCA XV Essential Skills program noted how influential it can be for young players.

“In my work with university students over the past twelve years the big thing they tell us about delivery of content is that they don’t want anything in ‘longer bites’ than 10-15 minutes,” he said.

“This is the way young people are learning these days. In designing the pedagogy and the delivery model, [we’ve built] a state-of-the-art program in the way we’re delivering education.”

Upon completion of each individual module, coaches will receive 30 CPD points from Football Australia – as well as recognition of prior learning from a major Australian University following the conclusion of all five modules.

Modules will be released through a gradual rollout starting Tuesday April 6, 2021 – accessible for registration here.

Football Coaching Life Podcast Recap: Episode Five with Graham Arnold

Graham Arnold was the special guest on episode five of Football Coaches Australia’s ‘The Football Coaching Life’ podcast.

Arnold has been to two World Cups as assistant to Gus Hiddink and Pim Verbeek, coached at two Asian Cups and Tokyo 2021 will be his second Olympics as Head Coach.

The current Socceroos coach has had wonderful success in the A-League winning Premierships and Championships with Central Coast Mariners and Sydney FC, as well as the FFA Cup with the Sky Blues.

Speaking with Gary Cole, Arnold touches on topics such as the past year’s difficulties due the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, how his coaching journey began, his successes at Central Coast and Sydney, the valuable lessons he has learnt along the way and much more.

Key Quotes in Episode Five

On the current structures of football in this country

“When you start looking at the overall sport of football in this country, right from the grassroots all the way up to professional, it’s big bash football.”

On his time working with Guus Hiddink

“He taught me more in 12 months, that I probably could’ve learnt in 10 years.”

His best lesson in coaching

“My best lesson I ever learnt was the 2007 Asian Cup. I stuffed that up big time and I knew I had. But what I tried to do…was I tried to manage the Guus Hiddink way. That was very rigid, very hard…and I didn’t have the power to deal with the ‘big boys’ in the end.”

On his man management style

“I’ve never let the players call me gaffer or the boss. It’s ‘Arnie’, and i’m there to help. I’m not there to rule with fear, or scare them or dictate to them. First and foremost, I’m there to support and help them become great players and great people.”

Final piece of wisdom for coaches

“Believe in yourself. It’s tough, coaching is not easy. Believe in your way and do it your way. Be flexible in the way you think, but at the end of it enjoy every day.”

FA CEO James Johnson opens up on difficulties in the game and opportunities for the future

Speaking at Football Victoria’s Community in Business event on Friday, Football Australia CEO James Johnson reflected on his first 14 months in the top job of the sport, detailing the difficulties the organisation faced in 2020 and the opportunities it has in the coming years.

“I’d like to share with you what I walked into in January 2020,” Johnson told the audience in Melbourne.

“I walked into Football Australia and what I understood from the off was that the organisation had really lost a sense of unity. I believe the organisation had lost its connection with the community.”

Johnson criticised the focus of the governing body’s financial model, believing it was not looking after the best interests of the game overall.

“The business model was heavily centred on the A-League,” he said.

“That was what decision making evolved around, while other parts of the game, in my opinion, were neglected. The business model was disconnected, fractured and was inefficient. It was inefficient because of the duplication of administration. It wasn’t set up to foster growth for a thriving football ecosystem.

“The model denied the most significant part of our game, our identity, our community, our people, our stories, our diverse and multicultural base and our great national teams.

“In place of this identity, we’ve allowed a narrative to proliferate over the past 10-15 years that is divided, politicised, old soccer against new football, but this is not what our game is.”

Football Australia CEO James Johnson

The former Brisbane Strikers player admits that the game is far from perfect in this country and needs to address a range of issues.

“We have some really serious challenges ahead of us,” he said.

“We don’t own enough facilities for our growing base, we have too many players, we are turning children and families away from our code because we don’t have enough infrastructure around the country. This is a real issue.

“The performance gap that we released in 2020 tells us that the age group that plays the most minutes in our elite men’s competition (the A-League) is the age of 32. We are not giving enough opportunities for our players under 23. We also have challenges with our football pyramid, we must reconnect our pyramid so we can unleash this potential of an ecosystem.”

Since Johnson was appointed as CEO early last year, the governing body has shifted their business model allowing them to deliver strategic priorities and focus on initiatives such as: the implementation of the domestic match calendar, the proposed introduction of a domestic transfer system, a half slot to the ACL for the FFA Cup winner and more. Johnson believes factors such as these are vital to reconnecting Australian football’s national pyramid.

In his speech at the Community in Business event, the former senior executive at the AFC, FIFA and the City Football Group also strongly emphasised the importance of recognising the game’s history properly, something the game has continued to neglect in previous years.

“We have a rich history and it must be celebrated,” he said.

“There are moments in our game, that not only shaped the game, but they shaped the way that our country is. In 1974, we sent our first men’s team to the World Cup led by Rale, in 1993 Maradona came here, in 1997 Iran broke our hearts, in 2005 a famous penalty got us to our first World Cup in many decades and in 2020 we won the rights to host the Women’s World Cup.

“Our game is full of these moments and I think if you all think about those moments, people will remember where they were when they occurred. We forget that our clubs in this country predated federation. We forget that football was the first sport in Australia to have a national competition in the 70’s. We forget the first cup competition in this country was in the 60’s, the Australia Cup.

“We forget that women played football in this country as early as 1909. Nearly 42 years ago, our very first Matildas stepped out onto Seymour Shaw Park for the first Matildas match. Now, we are only a few years away from the biggest sporting event for women in the world coming to our shores.

“We forget that 99 years ago our Socceroos played their first match against New Zealand. We are one year away from 100 years.

“We forget the role that football played in the lives of indigenous children, like John Moriarty, Jade North and Kyah Simon.

“We forget that our national competitions have always been the hallmark of our game. The NSL for many, many years. Our history provides us with platforms to move forward to and to launch a bold, exciting future for our sport.”

Johnson addresses the audience at Football Victoria’s CIB event

Johnson sees the Women’s World Cup in 2023 on home soil as the perfect avenue to establish a strong future for the game.

“We are focused on creating that link between our national teams, in particular the Matildas and our community,” he said.

“Our base of 2 million participants is great, but only 22% per cent of our base are women and girls. There is a direct link between the importance and relevance of national teams and the base of community. With our national teams starting up again, you will see over the next 3 years (particularly with the Women’s World Cup) that our base will grow further and it will grow well.

Our ‘Legacy 23’ framework is an ambitious plan to maximise the opportunities that the legacy of the Women’s World Cup (WWC) will provide us. Legacy is not something that starts after the WWC, it started last month. We’ve got to try as best as possible to ensure the WWC has a long-lasting legacy, similar to what happened with the Sydney Olympics in 2000.”

The FA CEO concluded by calling on every single stakeholder to be open to change, including the governing body itself, and push forward to make the sport the best it can be.

“If we are to reach the potential of our game, each and every one of us, every stakeholder, Football Australia, Member Federations, clubs, leagues, our community need to be open to change,” he said.

“Change and innovation are the commodities that we must deal with in 2021. I’m under no illusions that Football Australia must continue to earn the trust and confidence back from our stakeholders and community. To do this, we need deeds not just words.

“Let’s seize this opportunity and put our best foot forward.”

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