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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.

Is it time for a national agenda regarding Futsal?

Futsal has played a role in the development of famous football players. Is it time for national agenda regarding this format of the game?

Futsal has played a huge role in the development of some of the most famous football players on the planet. Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Neymar are three of the biggest names in game, who all honed their skills playing the small-sided game.

Even in Australia, one of our top talents – Celtic and Socceroo’s Tom Rogic – was an avid player throughout his youth. The country is currently without a national team for men or women, and those within the game argue that without a national agenda for futsal, Australia may fail to develop players of this calibre going forward.

According to former Futsalroo and South Melbourne Legend Fernando de Moraes, one of the biggest benefits to player development is the number of touches on the ball they receive, and this is an essential part of developing a complete and technically talented footballer.

“I’d say futsal isn’t important. It’s essential. It has to be a part of their development. The technique developed from playing futsal, you won’t get that in outdoor football. The technical skills, the small touches of the ball, the quick thinking. In the full-sided game, you don’t get enough of that sometimes,” he said.

Anthony Grima, head of commercial and futsal at Football Victoria, is at the heart of the development of the game within Australia. He believes that Australia needs a national road map for futsal to get the best out of the game.

“A roadmap for Futsal is crucial for the future success of the sport in this country. It would lay the foundations for the sport nationally and provide an aligned Futsal framework for all states and territories to follow,” he said.

“Priorities such as governance, grassroots and pathway programs, player, coach and referee development, Futsal national teams, a national Futsal League and more.”

De Moraes believes without a path for young players to compete against the best opposition, the game is losing out on developing players. Football Australia’s former iteration of a national futsal league, the F-League, is now defunct.

Fernando De Moraes playing in the F-League

“It all starts from if you don’t have a professional or national league, even a semi-pro league. If you have a pathway for the kids who want to join futsal in competitions around the country, these amazing kids can succeed. But obviously, there is no pathway for them. They get lost,” he said.

De Moraes is no stranger to international futsal, having been capped 29 times by his country. In the past futsal has operated on an ad-hoc basis, with national teams suffering from a lack of support and organisation. National teams were sometimes organized as representative sides without recognition from the professional bodies in Australia, especially for women.

“It was always a get-together one or two months before the competition, we’d train together maybe two times, and then we’d go overseas to play the tournament. To have a program, so you can organise sooner, get yourself ahead, and develop players would be brilliant,” de Moraes said.

According to Grima, the sport has suffered without a centralised and focused vision, however, success can be created by listening to the stakeholders of the game.

“There has been a lack of certainty over what role governing bodies should play in Futsal and what leadership they should provide,” he said.

“After the extensive consultation we did here in Victoria in 2019 with the game’s stakeholders – and getting a deeper understanding of best practice principles – it is clear that the sport must be aligned.”

Grima explains that while the game faces issues, Football Australia, and the state federations, have signalled improvements in the games pathways, while calling for a national agenda for the sport.

“I am delighted that Football Australia included futsal in Principle IV of the recently released XI Principles – for the future of Australian football. They call for the establishment of a national agenda for futsal and beach soccer and to investigate the creation of new products to grow the game. This is fantastic to see,” he said.

“Here in Victoria, like Queensland as well, we recently announced our futsal strategies and have stepped up our dedication to unite the sport and invest in the resources needed to govern Futsal in our respective states. Other states including NSW and ACT have long been dedicated to Futsal.”

The Futsalroos are currently inactive. Grima thinks there is a huge opportunity to launch a women’s national team under Football Australia.

“The FIFA Futsal World Cup is being held this year in Lithuania, it would have been great to see the Futsalroos participating,” he said.

“I believe there is a huge opportunity ahead of the FIFA Women’s World Cup to introduce a national women’s team for Futsal as well. What a great legacy hosting the World Cup would bring here for Futsal as well.”

De Moraes believes that with the support of the state federations, futsal could become a huge part in developing players for the national team.

“Futsal is a great sport to develop players in this country. The amount of talent that gets lost and doesn’t end up playing because of a lack of opportunity is a missed opportunity. To make futsal a part of football, with the federation’s support, would be great to see.” he said.

Support initiatives for coaches introduced by Football Queensland

Football Queensland (FQ) have announced a strengthening of its support of coaches at all levels of the game with the launch of a range of new coach development initiatives in recent weeks.

Football Queensland (FQ) have announced a strengthening of its support of coaches at all levels of the game with the launch of a range of new coach development initiatives in recent weeks.

The platform, entitled Coaching Knowledge Base, has been created by FQ’s Club Development Unit. The technical resources provided are designed to support both community and advanced club coaches and to address some of the challenges facing coaches across the state.

FQ’s knowledge sharing initiative in coach education and support is critical to the fostering of a positive coaching culture and the improvement of experiences of participants.

The Coaching Knowledge Base allows for easy access for all coaches and clubs to tailored content centred around Players, Training, Game Day and Administration, plus Development Webinars, Coach the Coach Interviews and Training Videos.

“It has been fantastic to see an increase in coaching registrations in 2021 with over 6,000 coaches currently registered across the state,” FQ CEO Robert Cavallucci said.

“Improving development opportunities while providing additional levels of support for coaches at every level of the game is a strategic focus of Football Queensland’s, not only for the benefit of the coaches themselves but also for participants, ensuring all coaches across the state are equipped to deliver enjoyable participation experiences.

“FQ is committed to supporting all registered coaches in their development, which is why we are excited to launch a host of new coach support initiatives including the new Coaching Knowledge Base webpage, Coach the Coach feature and monthly coaching newsletter.”

Gabor Ganczer, State Technical Director, expressed his excitement at the rollout and implementation of these initiatives.

“Created by Football Queensland’s Club Development Unit, the new Coaching Knowledge Base houses a suite of collateral for Queensland coaches including technical resources and training videos, development webinars, and Football Australia resources, and is also designed to improve clubs’ capacity to deliver a best practice youth development program,” he said.

“The new Coach the Coach segment launched by FQ in recent weeks will feature a Technical Director, Club Coach Coordinator and Coach Educator to provide an insight into the strategies and initiatives implemented at their club to support the professional development of their club coaches.

“The recently introduced coaching newsletter also provides registered coaches with regular updates on the latest initiatives and practices being implemented by FQ.

“The implementation of these new initiatives will not only support the thousands of coaches across Queensland, but will also assist clubs in creating a positive learning and development environment for coaches of all qualifications.”

New resources and content will be added to Coaching Knowledge Base on a monthly basis. It can be accessed by clicking here.

Football Tasmania launches Coaching for Women Scholarship program

Football Tasmania Scholarship

Football Tasmania has announced the launch of their Coaching for Women Scholarship program, an initiative which reaffirms the state’s recent focus on female participation within the sport. The program is an important step towards growing participation across all areas of the game for women and girls.

The Scholarship aims to address the lack of female representation within the state and wider country’s coaching ranks, with women from clubs and associations with states encouraged to reach out and apply.

At least five female coaches will be provided with Scholarships and the subsequent opportunity to complete the Football Australia ‘C’ Licence course. This will consist of at least one participant from each region – North West, Northern Tasmania and Southern Tasmania.

Each Scholarship includes a $1,200 contribution towards the course fee for the FA ‘C’ Licence course. Additionally, successful applications will have their attendance to the 2021/22 coaches conference included in the Scholarship.

Going forward, coaches will receive continuous support from Football Tasmania’s Coach Development Manager, David Smith, and Female Development Officer, Debra Banks. The successful Applicants will be required to complete the Scholarship within 18 months and attend the 2021/22 Football Tasmania State Coaching Conference.

Furthermore, an opportunity will be potentially offered to participants of the Scholarship program to travel interstate as an assistant coach at the Girls National Youth Championship in 2022.

Plans to increase participation across all areas of football are what is driving the initiative behind Football Tasmania’s Women’s Scholarship program.

The state’s governing footballing body is seeking to increase female participation to at least 30% total, whilst raising the number of active coaches and referees with accreditation by 15%.

With this program, Football Tasmania have recognised the significance of the raising awareness of and strengthening of the pathways for players, coaches and referees. As a result, strong and effective relationships with clubs can be better maintained in order to deliver tangible value for all stakeholders. Moreover, initiatives that subsequently recognise and reward achievements and successes in the game at all levels can champion the game for the state as a whole.

For those interested, the application form can be accessed here.

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