The Football Coaching Life with Alen Stajcic: “I knew that I had more to give back to the sport”

Alen Stajcic

Football Coaches Australia is delighted to present the latest episode of the ‘Football Coaching Life Podcast’, with Gary Cole interviewing former Australia Women’s National Team and Central Coast Mariners A-League Men’s coach Alen Stajcic.

Alen is currently Head Coach of the Philippines Women’s National Team. The side, nicknamed the Malditas (yes that’s correct!), are being prepared for the 2022 AFC Asian Cup held in India. The Philippines will play in a group with Indonesia, Thailand and of course Australia (the Matildas).

Alen’s Serbian background led him to Bonnyrigg White Eagles in Sydney’s west, but a knee injury shortened his playing career and as a teacher he began coaching.

Staj has had a remarkable coaching journey that began at the Hills Sports High School and at New South Wales Institute of Sport, coaching the Sapphires in the Women’s National Soccer League. Both of these institutions saw teams achieve repeated successes with championship wins, but Alen learned that success comes in many ways.

He had an early taste of coaching the Matildas in an Assistant Coach role with the Young Matildas at the 2006 World Cup in Russia, before becoming the inaugural Head Coach at Sydney FC Women, which saw them win two championships and two premierships, as well as third place at the FIFA International Women’s Club Championship.

Then followed five fantastic years as Head Coach of the Matildas, during which they beat Brazil and World Champions USA for the first time, changing the belief of the players and achieving successes at the Asian Cup, Olympic Games and World Cup.

Alen’s ‘One Piece of Wisdom’ was: ‘It’s got to be fun; you’ve got to enjoy it because it’s a tough job. Coaching can be a lonely experience, so you’ve really got to find the enjoyment, fun and reward and the connection to what it is you want to achieve. If it’s not fun it’s just too tough a job!’

Please join us in sharing Alen Stajcic’s Football Coaching Life.

Football Australia pilots FIFA Coach Education Development Pathway Program

17 of Australia’s emerging coaches have converged on Sydney this week to participate in a joint FIFA-Football Australia Coach Educators’ Development Pathway Program.

Football Australia was one of five Member Associations selected by FIFA to run this pilot program, focusing on the development of home-grown coach educators through 150 hours of theory and practical learning linked to the fundamental coach educator’s competence, which will ultimately lead to graduates supporting Football Australia and Member Federations to develop more qualified coaches.

Commencing in November 2021, selected participants from the Australian football community embarked on this 12-month program featuring 40 online modules, with this five-day (2–6 May) in-person element providing the opportunity to deliver sessions in the classroom and on-pitch, enabling attending FIFA and Football Australia technical experts to guide and provide feedback.

Leading this week’s in-person modules are FIFA experts Branimir Ujevic (FIFA Head of Coaching & Player Development), Dany Ryser (FIFA Technical Expert and current U17 Men’s Switzerland Head Coach) and Mohamed Basir (FIFA Senior Manager, Coaching Development Department).

Joining them are Trevor Morgan (National Technical Director & U17 Men’s Head Coach), Rae Dower (Women’s Technical Advisor & U17 Women’s Head Coach) and Ron Smith (Technical Consultant) from Football Australia.

Australia joins Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, and the United States in being selected to roll-out this pilot program, which Trevor Morgan acknowledges is a nod to the ongoing work of Football Australia and the Member Federations in the development of coaches at all levels.

“Football Australia is looking to evolve coach and player development and participating in this coach educators’ pathway program, as developed by and delivered in collaboration with FIFA, will enable Australian coaches to get a head start on this new program which will be implemented the world over in the coming years,” Morgan said.

“In this program, FIFA brings a certain methodology, a pathway to follow step by step, and the necessary tools for the current course participants – and ultimately coach education instructors – to perform as effectively as possible.

“If Australian football can develop and grow a pool of highly skilled coach educators in all parts of the country, the multiplier effect this will have on not only on coach development but in delivering elite player training, will have a huge impact on both the volume and quality of footballers we produce as a nation.”

Football Coaches Australia addresses Dwight Yorke appointment

Dwight Yorke

Football Coaches Australia (FCA) has today congratulated Australian Professional Leagues (APL) on securing FC Barcelona to play an exhibition match against the A-League All Stars team in Sydney next month.

FCA’s mantra is to promote and strengthen the reputation of football in Australia and the reputation of Australian football on the world stage.

FCA acknowledges the appointment of Dwight Yorke as the All Stars head coach in this exhibition game, however strongly believes that the All Star team should be led by an Australian A-League or national team coach.

This will be Dwight’s first official head coaching appointment at any level, and FCA wishes him all the best with his future football management aspirations. His football pedigree and his outstanding contribution as a player with Sydney FC, at the inception of the A-League, are recognised by all.

FCA president Phil Moss, who was appointed assistant coach of the last A-League All Stars team for the 2014 match against Italian giants Juventus, said:

“Whilst FCA supports the inclusion of Dwight Yorke in the coaching staff as he launches his managerial career, the missed opportunity for an Australian coach to gain invaluable experience and exposure internationally as the Head Coach is disappointing,” Moss said.

“We understand the profile and interest having Dwight Yorke involved and what it will add to this game, and also understand the logistical issues of not knowing who the Isuzu Ute A-League final four coaches will be.

“But we are about providing opportunities for Australian coaches to grow, and show the world what we are capable of and this is a missed chance to do that.

“I was involved as the assistant in 2014 and know first-hand what a huge development opportunity that was for me and we feel there are numerous coaches with the right capabilities and experience to lead the All-Star team in the game against Barca.

“Whilst we anticipate the appointment of Australian coaches to assist Dwight, we can’t ignore the fact this would have been an ideal opportunity to promote our own Australian A-League head coaches to the football world.”

Australian football coaches deserve to be further acknowledged for their efforts in guiding their respective teams throughout the past two seasons, particularly in extremely challenging COVID circumstances. An All Stars head coach appointment would have been a fitting reward.

Previous All Stars appointments have been Ange Postecoglou (2013 v Manchester United) and Spaniard Josep Gombau (2014 v Juventus). These appointments were chosen by fans who voted.

FCA believes that A-Leagues Men and Women competitions should not only be a pathway to the global football world for players, but also our elite coaches, and we should use every opportunity to support them in their career development.

FCA also encourages the APL to consider the unique experience the All Star game would provide an Australian woman coach in one of the assistant coach roles.

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