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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.”

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 presents ‘The Football Coaching Life Podcast’ S3 Ep 4 with Gary Cole interviewing Belinda Wilson

Gary Cole

Belinda Wilson began her football journey in Byron Bay on the far north coast of NSW. She is currently enjoying autumn in Zurich, Switzerland where she is the Senior Technical Development Manager, Women’s Football with FIFA. A remarkable achievement for a young Australian Coach and Administrator.

After falling in love with the game on a family holiday to the UK, Belinda returned to Byron Bay unable to play as she was a girl. At the time there were no girls’ competitions and girls weren’t allowed to play with boys. She was eventually allowed to play as a twelve-year-old in the senior women’s team.

Her coaching journey began as a teenager coaching her younger brothers’ team from U6 through to U13’s. Her talent saw her be rewarded as coach of FFNC U14 girls’ representative team.

Belinda has worked as the Coach Education Manager for AFC, been in fulltime club roles in Sweden and Denmark. She returned to Australia to work with FNSW, NSWIS and Head Coach of the Australian U17 team, also winning a Premiership with Brisbane Roar in 2013.

She was appointed as Head Coach of the Guam Women’s National Team and National Technical Director in 2017 and has also been on the FIFA Technical Panel for World Cups in 2007 and 2011 and the 2008 Olympic Games.

Belinda’s ‘One Piece of Wisdom’ was: “Don’t be afraid to take a risk. Go out there and challenge yourself to see who you are as a person but also as a coach. Take the opportunities and take a risk, the worst that can happen is you end up where you started, and sometimes that’s not a bad place to be.”

Please join us in sharing Belinda Wilson’s Football Coaching Life.

Football Australia marks strong 2021 progress in Annual General Meeting

FA AGM

Football Australia’s 18th Annual General Meeting (AGM) was held on Tuesday afternoon (November 23) via video conference, in line with the release of the national governing body’s 2021 Annual Review.

At the AGM, Football Australia’s Members voted to re-elect Amy Duggan and Joseph Carrozzi as Directors. The Football Australia Board now comprises nine members, of which five are female and four are male – a first of the major sporting bodies in Australia with a gender split of 55% female and 45% male.

Football Australia’s Members also ratified changing the financial year of Football Australia from a financial year (July 1 to June 30) to a calendar year (January 1 to December 31).

This step is made in the spirit of the ‘One Football’ concept outlined in the XI Principles for the future of Australian football and increases alignment of financial years across the entire game, as Football Australia seeks to create greater operating efficiencies.

Following the AGM, Chris Nikou was installed unanimously by his fellow Directors to the position of Football Australia Chair – a role he has fulfilled since November 2018. Carla Wilshire was elected as Deputy Chair.

Nikou was pleased that 2021 was a year of implementation and action.

“It is with great satisfaction that the Board of Football Australia can report that 2021 has indeed been a landmark year for our sport. We are taking transformative steps for the future, driven by our 15-year vision outlined in our XI Principles for the future of Australian football and by our commitment to a strategic growth agenda,” Nikou said.

“In recent times, we have embarked on crucial and at times, difficult structural changes. Reforms that will see the continued evolution and growth of our great game. I am proud to say that we have completed making many of those changes.

“Over the last year, I have been pleased with the increased level of collaboration among the game’s stakeholders. Their strong appetite for working hand-in-hand will ensure that the game will continue to evolve and grow in ways not seen before.

“Pleasingly, with all the work undertaken in developing a new 15-year vision for the sport and our clear strategic growth agenda, and in re-creating and re-imagining our value proposition commercially, we entered FY 2021/22 with a budgeted revenue double what we achieved in FY 2020/21. In a COVID-19 affected world, this is a remarkable turnaround,”

In the second year of his tenure, Chief Executive Officer James Johnson said:

“Australian football is in a vastly different position today than what it was 18 months ago, with noticeable and significant change taking place across the game this year.

“2022 will provide the opportunity to focus our strategic agenda on key initiatives, such as digital transformation and the establishment of more exciting football products, which we believe will enhance our connection to our broad and diverse football community.

“We have set the foundations for positive transformation of Australian football in 2021 and we are optimistic and excited about the future of the game.”

Football Australia’s 2021 Annual Review can be accessed here.

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