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One-on-one with John Aloisi: “I want to coach again”

Socceroos legend John Aloisi has declared he wants to coach again “sooner rather than later”, hoping to get that opportunity locally in the A-League or overseas in the future.

Aloisi, who currently works as a pundit for Optus Sport, last coached the Brisbane Roar to two top-four finishes in the A-League, in his first two seasons at the club.

The 45-year-old would eventually leave his post in late 2018, during his fourth season as manager at the club.

In a wide-ranging chat with Soccerscene, the man who scored that famous penalty against Uruguay touches on the current status of youth development in Australian football, the need for a national second division, his future ambitions in coaching, the quality of local coaches, his playing career and the upcoming Women’s World Cup.

First of all John, the current state of affairs due to COVID-19 has seen a lot more youngsters get playing time in the A-League. Which young players have particularly stood out for you and how significant is it for youth development in this country for these players to get valuable minutes? 

John Aloisi: Yeah I think it’s very important for the players to get minutes. If you go around the world, the best leagues do have players at an early age playing a lot of games of football. You can do all the training in the world, but if you don’t play games you’re not going to improve as a footballer.

Pretty much every team in the A-League has had young players that are really standing out. It’s good to see the young Australian strikers at the top of the scoring charts, you’ve got Kuol at Central Coast Mariners, Wenzel-Halls at Brisbane Roar and D’Agostino at Perth all up there.

It’s a great opportunity for all the young players at the moment, because you’ve got the Olympic Games just around the corner. I think it’s exciting for Graham Arnold and for the young boys, if they do well they could be on the plane to Tokyo.

You played senior matches as a 15-16-year-old at Adelaide City at the start of your career. Personally, how vital were those games in your development as a player?

John Aloisi: I only really played one NSL game, but I played a lot of the cup games and whatever else, but at the time it was crucial. But look, you had to be good enough or else you didn’t play. Adelaide City didn’t just throw in young players for the sake of it, they had a very experienced squad. For me to play with the experienced players around me, I remember just in the starting 11, you had Milan Ivanovic, Alex Tobin, there were internationals, Tony Vidmar was there, Joe Mullen, Ernie Tapai and so on. I learnt a lot off them, not only in games but also in training, so I was fortunate in that way.

When I then went to Europe, I started playing at 17 in the first team for Royal Antwerp, so it was really valuable to get those minutes at that age to improve as a footballer.

Another thing that will aid youth development is a national second tier. There’s been a lot of talk recently about the right model for it in Australia; do you support the introduction of a full, home and away, national second division with 12-16 teams?

John Aloisi: Yeah, I do. I think if they can get that formula right in terms of the financials, that would definitely improve the younger players. They will get more opportunities then and there will be a different pathway for a lot of them. At the moment, it’s still quite tough for a lot of these young talented players to come up into an A-League side. If you have more teams, it will definitely help. You will also make it exciting with promotion and relegation battles and I think it will only be beneficial.

So, I do support a national second division and I believe in the future there will be one, it’s just the matter of how they go about getting one and how it works financially.

Moving on a bit from that, Aussie coaches have also been given more of a chance recently in the A-League. How do you see the current quality of Australian coaches and what type of differences have you noticed since you began coaching Melbourne Heart nine years ago?

John Aloisi: The quality of the coaches has been there for a long period. I think what’s changed and helped the quality is the likes of Ange Postecoglou and Graham Arnold, because they set a standard. From there, the standard keeps on going up and coaches keep on improving. A lot of Australian coaches have worked under them or with them, asked them questions and so forth, but also when you coach against them you learn a lot.

It’s a good thing to see more of these Australian coaches coming through.

Aloisi was appointed manager of Melbourne Heart in 2012.

You have obviously had a couple of senior coaching positions in your time, like I said with the then Melbourne Heart and also the Brisbane Roar. Do you have any further ambitions to coach again in the A-League or overseas in the future?

John Aloisi: Yeah I definitely do, I want to coach again. I hope its sooner rather than later, but it has to be the right job and right environment. Hopefully that will happen here in Australia.

In the future I would love to go back overseas and coach, I was there as a player, but who knows what the future holds. But coaching is definitely still on my radar and hopefully I can get that opportunity again soon.

Touching on that playing career overseas, you played in top leagues around the world including La Liga, the Premier League and Serie A. What can you tell me in regards to the difference in football cultures in these three countries based on your experiences there?

John Aloisi: It was very different when I was there. The Serie A was very defence minded, especially the lower teams, but it’s changed quite a bit now in terms of the way they like to play their football. It’s a lot more open and attacking, but back then the only thing that mattered were results. It didn’t matter how you won; the defence was key. It wasn’t always that great to play there as a striker, because we didn’t have many chances in a game.

England was a lot more open. The supporters there, if you tried, ran and fought, they would applaud your efforts. I enjoyed playing in England, it was a great atmosphere at the games and as a striker you got more opportunities to score goals than probably all of the three big leagues I played in.

The one that was a combination of both (Italy and England) cultures was probably the Spanish league. I just really enjoyed the style of football, the culture and the way they thought about football.

The three countries were all different, but football was number one, so it was great to be in countries where football means everything to them.

You obviously had a long successful career as a player, what would you say is the best moment you had in your playing career?

John Aloisi: The highlight for me was playing at the World Cup for the Socceroos. It was a dream as a kid, we hadn’t qualified for so many years. Watching the World Cups when I was growing up, was always without Australia there. It was exciting to play at a World Cup, but it was also just the whole build up…it was amazing when we finally got there. It was definitely a highlight for me and I’m pretty sure for all the players that played in that World Cup in 2006.

I think also playing in the Spanish Cup final for Osasuna, it was my last game for the club. To play in the Copa Del Rey final, the only time in Osasuna’s 100-year history to make a major final, was also a massive highlight.

They are probably two of things that stand out the most.

The Socceroos celebrate a goal at the 2006 World Cup.

Lastly John, looking ahead we have the Women’s World Cup here in 2023 and it could be a real game changer for Australian football. How important is it to capitalise on this event, something the game didn’t really execute with the 2015 Asian Cup?

John Aloisi: It’s massive. First of all, I believe the Matildas can win it. We have a great generation of talented women players, so hopefully we can win the World Cup and that will really boost the game on many levels.

But, it’s also about getting the infrastructure right for the Women’s World Cup, which will end up helping us in the future in terms of football at all levels. I’m talking about training facilities, purpose-built stadiums for football and that’s when it will be a lot easier to have a national second division and those type of things. When you have the infrastructure right, you can produce better players. That’s what we want to do, produce world-class players, both women and men.

It’s important to get the government backing us, because if they do that, we will get the facilities right.

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.

One2Pro: The former Premier League player who has developed a game-changing app in Australia

Currently residing in Western Australia, former Premier League footballer Aaron Tighe has recently launched the One2Pro app, providing footballers of all ages with an innovative skills-based program to challenge themselves.

Tighe had stints at Luton Town and Leicester City before his career ended through injury at the young age of 22, before eventually moving into coaching.

After coaching youth players in the UK, he moved to Australia and ultimately set up his own skills academy down under.

Tighe’s academy looked to improve the individual skills of players through a specialised program and after running it for around 20 years, he looked to technology to expand the program to a wider audience.

“About 4 years ago I was listening to an interview with Tony Robbins and he just mentioned if you are doing something really good and it’s offering some good support to people, think about how you can spread it to more people, to give more value,” Tighe told Soccerscene.

“That was when the idea came into my head to put the program, that I have been doing for 20 odd years, into a mobile phone app.”

The app provides users with 92 professional skills and techniques to master through 12 modules, with detailed video instructions provided.

What sets the app apart from others on the market however, is the specialised feedback you receive from professional coaches to help footballers improve their ability.

“The unique difference to the app is that you actually get to work with a physical coach,” Tighe said.

“On a lot of the apps out there, when you look at the reviews, they are very much – download the app, here’s the content, follow the instructions and off you go.

“I thought what would be different and unique would be for the user to watch the videos for the instructions of the skills, but then they upload their own video of them doing those skills and pass them on to an actual coach.

“The coach will then comment back, score your efforts through a medal system (bronze, silver and gold) and guide you through the program.

“It’s a very effective one-on-one coaching program.”

Creator of One2Pro Aaron Tighe.

Tighe, as a youngster, imagined developing his own skills with the close assistance from a professional player, and this became a major motivation in creating an app for the next generation.

“One of the reasons why I developed the app was I remember as a kid myself playing on the street with your mates and imagining a professional footballer or coach coming down to the local park or street to teach us some skills,” he said.

“I thought to myself It’s impossible to go physically everywhere, so the app would be the best thing.”

The One2Pro app has only been on the market since earlier this year, however, it has garnered a following from regions all across the world.

“We’ve had a lot of take up in the US, Australia, UK, Belgium, Netherlands, Africa and even the Middle East,” Tighe said.

“It’s very exciting to see this thing hit different corners of the world and see players use it from all over the globe.”

Due to its popularity, Tighe has received constant feedback from users who continue to use the app to improve their skillsets.

“They’ve said It’s simple to use, they find the skills challenging and interesting to learn,” he said.

“A big one for me is they have improved their confidence. The players will turn around and say I got the feedback and it’s given me more confidence in my ability to master the skill.”

Although the app is relatively new, Tighe does have plans to expand it in the future and may look to use the established template for other sports.

“Ultimately what I’d love to do first is expand this out to schools and clubs where they can work with their own coaches if they want to,” he said.

“In the future I would also like to investigate whether I could use a similar formula for any sport or discipline, whether tennis or cricket.”

For more information and to download the One2Pro app, visit the company’s website here: https://www.one2pro.com

Football Coaches Australia and XVenture announce ‘Play it Forward’ support

XV FCA

Football Coaches Australia (FCA) welcomes all Australian advance licence and community football coaches to the FCA XVenture College and the Essential Skills ‘Play it Forward’ program.

In a world first opportunity for all Australian football coaches, FCA and XV are offering a program which connects directly with FCA and XVenture’s DNA. A global mentoring (or buddy system) program which will allow for Australian coaches to help a fellow coach from around the world to undertake their own FCA XV Essential Skills study as a result of their helping hand.

The program supports football coaches in Australia and other countries who will be able to influence their community immensely as a result of our help.

XVenture Founder and CEO Mike Conway:

“For every coach who undertakes this program with Football Coaches Australia, we will “Play It Forward” by providing a coach who can’t afford the program full access to this body of work too. Imagine – coaches around the World helping the next generation! Improving lives and growing the game. Surely that’s what it’s about? There are no barriers.”           

This program is also in line with the FCA mantra of “Promoting and strengthening the reputation of football in Australia and the reputation of Australian football on the world stage”.

Glenn Warry FCA CEO:

“During the ongoing impact of COVID on world sport we at FCA, along with our valued partner XVenture, are just so proud to present the ‘Play it Forward’ program.

In 2020 FCA worked hard to lead in connecting the coaching community via an extensive coach PD webinar program for community and accredited coaches.

“The FCA XV College Essential Skills ‘Play it Forward’ Program is an incredible opportunity for Australian coaches to enhance the continuing education of every coach’s journey around the world no matter what level they are working at or what their circumstances are”.

How will the FCA XV ‘Play it Forward’ program work?

For every FCA XV Essential Skills full program undertaken by an Australian football coach a complimentary program will be provided to a coach from around the world who can’t afford the program to allow you both to work through the completion of the program together.

Initially FCA and XV will offer this program to coaches nominated by their current football network partners:

  • Association of Indian Football Coaches
  • John Moriarty Foundation
  • RISE Football Academy

FCA is also engaging with the Nepal Football Association, other Asian Football Coach Associations and the Oceania Football Confederation regarding the provision of support for coaches who meet the criteria.

As the program grows FCA will be looking to expand their network to provide this unique opportunity to coaches from all around the world, by connecting with organisations such as ‘Coaches Across Continents’.

The series of FCA XV College modules are delivered completely online, in a revolutionary virtual world environment which aims to develop the ‘essential skills’ of coaching across 5 modules – Emotional Intelligence, Leadership, Resilience, Culture and Communication Skills.

Phil Moss, President of FCA, introduces the course to participating coaches as they make their way through the virtual world of the FCA XV College foyer. View here.

XVenture Founder, Professor Mike Conway provides an Essential Skills Introduction which can be viewed here.

Find out how you can be part of this coaching revolution by visiting FCA XVenture’s College

Will Melbourne City eventually move all of their games to the south east?

Melbourne City were the benchmark in the A-League last season, lifting the Premiers Plate in May and eventually the Championship in late June.

It was their first taste of A-League success after years of hard work on and off the pitch.

The club has invested heavily since City Football Group (CFG) took over the Melbourne Heart in 2014, initially building a $15 million City Football Academy in Bundoora, in the city’s north, which has housed the club for the past few years.

In what seems like a strategic investment however, the club revealed late last year that they will move from their Bundoora headquarters and relocate to Casey Fields in Melbourne’s south east.

Earlier this month, the club announced construction had begun on the new elite City Football Academy facility within the 84-hectare Casey Fields Sporting Precinct.

“The first stage of construction includes the central elite training pitch, with its 115m x 115m hybrid grass surface, and is due for completion by the end of 2021. The new pitch is adjacent to the site’s existing four full-sized pitches – one grass and three synthetic – which will be primarily used by the Club’s Academy teams and for City in the Community programs, as well as for City of Casey school and club programs.

“The next stage of construction will see the development of Melbourne City’s new two-storey administration and high-performance building at Casey Fields, currently in detailed design phase. Construction on that phase of the facility is due to commence in the coming months, with completion estimated for mid-2022,” a Melbourne City FC statement read.

Stage three of construction will look to implement a 4000-capacity mini stadium in a significant space in the precinct.

With the club’s A-League players to officially begin training in the facility in August, recent developments in regards to the possibility of a 15,000-capacity stadium in Dandenong may see the end of the team playing all of their games at AAMI Park, in the years to come.

The Victorian Government has already pledged $100,000 in funding for a feasibility review and development of a business case to build the 15,000-seat boutique stadium, with the City of Greater Dandenong also set to match that contribution.

According to Cranbourne Star News, The Greater Dandenong Council is lobbying for $110 million to build the stadium, which will also host festivals, concerts, rugby matches, alongside hosting future Melbourne City games.

While of course at this stage there is no guarantee the stadium will be built, Melbourne City head honchos may have to grapple with the idea of permanently leaving AAMI Park behind, the stadium they have hosted games at since their inception.

With Victory ditching their deal with Marvel Stadium to move all their games back to AAMI Park next season and Western United set to play the majority of their games at AAMI for at least the next two seasons, the 30,000-capacity rectangular stadium is not short of regular football content.

If the proposed stadium does get the go-ahead, City may look to move all of their home matches to Dandenong, and alongside their new academy location, this can prove to be beneficial in establishing a clear geographic identity.

They will have a stronger presence in the local areas and will have the chance to better connect with the local football community and grow their membership base.

City should also still have a reasonable chunk of members who live in the south and south eastern suburbs of Melbourne, with a report from 2018 stating 28% of their members came from those areas.

Adversely, a move away from AAMI Park has the possibility to alienate members and fans who may not want to travel to the proposed stadium for reasons such as proximity.

Sharing the home games between the stadiums could be a viable option, but also brings on the challenge of not having a singular home ground, as well as match scheduling conflicts.

A big call from City administrators may need to be made in the end and not all members and fans will be pleased.

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