Socceroo legend Harry Kewell: “Players will see through coaches who don’t believe in what they’re doing”

Harry Kewell

To celebrate the launch of Football Coaches Australia and XVenture’s recently announced international partnership with Global Institute of Sport, FCA’s ‘Football Coaching Life’ series this week features Gary Cole conversing with Celtic FC Assistant Coach and Socceroo great Harry Kewell.

Often cited as the greatest footballer Australia has ever produced, Kewell triumphantly earned several trophies and individual accolades across stints with Leeds United, Liverpool, Galatasaray, and in the A-Leagues where he crossed the divide between rivals Melbourne Victory and Melbourne Heart. Furthermore, Kewell was a recipient of the Order of Australia Medal in 2016 in acknowledgement of his achievements in football.

Speaking with fellow Socceroo legend Gary Cole on ‘The Football Coaching Life’ podcast, Kewell spoke on his transition from playing to coaching and his beginnings as Watford’s Under-23s coach where he described his role.

“It wasn’t about me producing a way to play football, it was about me progressing my players into the first team,” he said.

Following successive stints as manager of Crawley Town, Notts County, Oldham Athletic and Barnet across England’s Football League Two and National League, Kewell has arrived as an assistant coach to Ange Postecoglou at Celtic.

Kewell discussed the importance of having an original identity as a coach, his journey in the world of football, and his pure love for coaching.

“I absolutely love coaching more than I played… it’s one of the best feelings in the world. That you have coached your football team to cross the white line, and you have taught them ideas throughout the whole week, and they have gone out there and executed them perfect, and they have got their reward…YES! YES!”

‘The Football Coaching Life’ with Harry Kewell can be listened to here.

Harry Kewell

Football Coaches Australia announces Kelly Rourke as new CEO

Kelly Rourke

Football Coaches Australia (FCA) has announced Kelly Rourke as the new Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

An experienced leader with a wealth of industry background, Rourke has spent 20 years in the UK police force and has built a strong reputation in Australia.

Her past roles include Greyhound Racing NSW and Head of Control and Compliance with Tabcorp, while she spent five years with National Rugby League South Australia as the State Manager, making significant strides for the sport in South Australia.

Rourke was also the Chair for The Marjorie Jackson-Nelson Centre for Women’s Sport, offering the chance to empower women in various sporting roles from athletes and coaches to officials, administrators, board members and community players. This supports females to play, lead and change the game for future generations.

Currently, Rourke is with Greyhound Racing SA as General Manager, while she also volunteered for the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 events in Adelaide and even plays as an attacking defender in her home state.

Speaking to Soccerscene, Rourke shared what the CEO role means to her.

“I’m a big football fan and being English it’s something that I’ve been involved in my whole life,” she said.

“It’s an amazing opportunity to give back to coaches who generally get forgotten about.

“Everything that FCA does has the greatest intention for the game – the Australian coaching community has a lot of potential and it’s something I wanted to be part of.”

Working with President Gary Cole, Rourke will be a forward-thinker to drive the standards for coaching in Australia.

“Gary goes above and beyond and his background in the game speaks for itself,” Rourke said.

“His enthusiasm emanates through – for example with The Football Coaching Life Podcast and it’s going to be great to hear more stories.

“He was one of the first people I spoke to and was instrumental in wanting me to take the CEO role.”

As she settles into the CEO position, Rourke outlined what she hopes to achieve in the coming weeks and months.

“We just need to take some time to figure out where we want to take FCA, for grassroots right up to elite coaching,” she said.

“I really need to understand what coaches want from us and from there that’s where I can direct my focus.”

“Being English, I look at the Premier League and see the opportunities created down in the lower divisions and the amount of jobs created, with female coaches involved in that.

“Holistically from grassroots, we’ll look at the pyramid of coaching – if Australia want to be the best in the world we need investment in this area.

“For example, what happens when players get to the end of their career – we need a clear and established pathway, and with my background I can bring a different lens to see what can be improved.”

Off the back of FIFA World Cup exploits for both the Socceroos and Matildas, the future of Australian coaching will remain an integral growth area for the game.

Ange Postecoglou’s journey has laid a path for future Australian coaches to succeed in Europe

At Football Victoria’s Community in Business Full Time Luncheon event, special guests discussed Ange Postecoglou’s brilliant start at Tottenham Hotspur and explained his journey through the coaching ranks.

Postecoglou’s incredible 27-year coaching resume started at South Melbourne FC, the team he played 10 years with in the old NSL. Ange’s stint at the Roar was memorable, most notably his record-breaking 36-game unbeaten run which saw them win multiple titles during his reign.

After spending time managing the national team and Japanese club Yokohama F. Marinos, it wasn’t until his Celtic managerial move that contributed to the positive reputation spike of Australian managers in the world game.

The Celtic appointment was faced with lots of criticism from the Scottish media and Celtic supporters, but his success made sure that simmered down quickly. It was a huge milestone in Australian football as it was the first time an Aussie manager not only managed a major team in Europe but also won a league title in Europe.

Former South Melbourne FC player Paul Trimboli and Melbourne Victory legend Archie Thompson were on the panel that told their personal anecdotes about how he was on and off the field. This has opened up a wider discussion about Australian coaches in general and how there is quite a lack of success in that area.

Archie Thompson, who played under Postecoglou for his short stint at Melbourne Victory, spoke about his coaching style at the Community in Business event recently.

“He is a little bit difficult to read at first for sure but what I admire is how he was able to evolve. He came into Victory and changed the way he played the game from his Roar days, and it worked. We scored heaps of goals and had success,” Thompson said.

“Ange was solely focused on the team first over any individuals. It was never Thompson 1 or 2-0; it was Victory 2-0 and that’s why he has been so great. He has a knack of appreciating individuals but always keeping the team-first mentality.”

Ange’s incredible journey does paint a picture however of the struggles that Australian coaches have breaking into European football, which is increasingly becoming an issue as more Aussie coaches succeed in both the men’s and women’s game domestically and in Asia.

Gary Cole, President of Football Coaches Australia (FCA) has previously discussed in length about the significant hurdle that these coaches face, which is acquiring the UEFA pro license.

Despite Postecoglou’s deep football coaching resume, his move to Celtic could have been derailed because of the system and rules set in place in order to attain the license, which review the coach’s ability to manage a professional football team.

However, there is no doubt that Ange’s incredible journey and early Manager of the Month success at Tottenham Hotspur will open doors for fellow Aussie managers to be firstly given a chance but to also succeed in Europe.

Kevin Muscat had a small stint at Belgian club Sint-Truiden in 2020, whilst Patrick Kisnorbo managed ESTAC Troyes and became the first ever Australian manager of a team in a ‘top five’ European men’s league. Kisnorbo’s move to fellow City group club  Troyes, thanks to his success at Melbourne City, also presents as a future opportunity for A-League managers who impress.

Whilst the results from both weren’t or haven’t been fantastic, the opportunity was granted to them due to recent success and the foundation potentially laid for the future of Australian coaches in Europe. These moves only increase the validity of the A-League and Australian coaches, especially because of the long journey a lot of these managers go through just to reach that sort of level.

The future is brighter for the reputation and validity of Australian football, a country that is quickly latching on to the sport especially after Men’s and Women’s World cup successes.

Ange Postecoglou continues to shine in the Premier League and his impressive story has no doubt created its own pathway for more Australian coaches to follow with hopefully less obstacles and difficulties.

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