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The NBL Hall Of Famer leading Blacktown City FC into a new era

NBL Hall of Famer Bob Turner has played a pivotal role in a range of sporting organisations over the span of his 40-plus year career.

His illustrious resume includes prominent coaching stints at famous teams such as the Sydney Kings and the Canberra Cannons, where he won back-to-back NBL titles in 1983 and 1984.

Despite these achievements, Turner explained to Soccerscene it was his work with organisations in the sports marketing space that was equally as rewarding.

“I’ve earnt this reputation as a basketball guy, but coaching was only one part of it, it was also the marketing of sport for me which was just as exciting,” he said.

In this capacity, Turner has worked with organisations such as ABL’s Sydney Blue Sox, Speedway, four NBL teams, Jack High Lawn Bowls and more.

His latest project however is with the round-ball game and may be his biggest challenge yet, working with a historic club based in Australian football’s heartland.

Turner was appointed Executive Chairman at NPL side Blacktown City FC earlier this year and he hopes to turn the club into an off-field giant.

“The club has been around 68 years, it’s very credible as far as producing talent and what it’s done in the past,” he said.

“I think on the field they’ve been fantastic, but off the field there wasn’t a lot of emphasis put on getting people to the game or having people aware of who they were, which is something I’ve always enjoyed building on.

Turner knows the area well and believes that the stigma surrounding Blacktown as a city is unfair and not a true depiction of reality.

“The city of Blacktown itself is probably the most misunderstood city in the country,” he said.

“When I was involved at the Sydney Blue Sox I’d say to people ‘come out to a game and they’d say where do you play?’

“I’d tell them the games were at Blacktown and they’d say ‘oh no, I don’t go to Blacktown because of the crime or whatever’.

“It kind of intrigued me why the city is so misunderstood.

“So, I looked at what Blacktown City needed and the city of Blacktown needed and I thought they can both help each other to get this thing going. For me Blacktown City is ripe and ready to own Blacktown and I believe the club can act as a catalyst to assist in igniting pride in this city.”

The former NBL coach understands that promotion through the media is vital when it comes to ultimately helping him achieve his goal of regularly filling the 5,000 capacity Lily Homes Stadium in Sydney’s West.

“In the local media there’s 3 newspapers and 3 radio stations; we are working to secure all six of them as media partners. 3-4 of them are already in,” he said.

Alongside this, Turner himself has a monthly column in ‘Blacktown News’ and has enlisted the help of an agency which provides marketing material for the club, that includes print and radio ads.

While all these factors help considerably, Turner explains that most of all the product that you are selling must be of a good value itself.

“The ingredients to any sporting organisation are you have to play in a good competition, you have to have teams people want to go watch and you have to be good,” he said.

Blacktown City, are currently doing more than good. After eight games the senior men’s side sit on top of the table in NPL NSW in a competition that features other former NSL clubs such as Sydney United, Sydney Olympic, Marconi Stallions and Wollongong Wolves.

Turner credits the strong start to coach Mark Crittenden’s coaching methods and he hopes the club stays in the championship hunt throughout the season.

“It comes down to the coach and the recruitment of the right players,” he said.

“What I’m fascinated by is we play a lot of these teams in the competition who will spend more money than we do. They recruit some of our players, but it doesn’t affect our culture or standards.

“The first time I met Mark Crittenden, he was my kind of coach. He’s what I like as a coach, it’s what I tried to be as a coach. Someone who develops a culture and makes it clear that the club is far more important than any one player, coach or anybody.

“I see what he does with players and how they react to him and that’s why we are winning.”

Turner emphasises that the club wants to replicate this success with Blacktown’s female program and claims they must capitalise on the upcoming Women’s World Cup in 2023.

“If we have a women’s team with the same culture as the men’s team, the same ability to develop talent, we’ll be right up there,” he said.

“Next year we want the women to be in NPL2 and 2023 we want them to be in NPL1.

“We need to start to show that our commitment is both ways and it will also help us with potential funding for improvements to our changerooms and our ground.”

 

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.

Ufuk Talay: “Never compromise your beliefs on the way the game should be played”

Ufuk Talay

“Be strong in your beliefs. Don’t compromise on your playing style and philosophy and the principles of how you want to play, whether your winning 5-0 or losing 5-0. You might tweak a few a few things but never compromise on any beliefs on the way the game should be played.” Ufuk Talay’s ‘One Piece of Wisdom’.

Season 4, Episode 4 of the Football Coaching Life with Gary Cole is an engaging and open conversation with Ufuk Talay, the manager of Wellington Phoenix’s A-League Men’s side.

Ufuk fell in love with the game through his father who encouraged him to develop his skills. His dad used the SBS TV show ‘Captain Socceroo’ to find new skills for Ufuk to master! Those were the days!

After debuting for Marconi and winning a championship in the NSL, Ufuk signed for the large Turkish powerhouse Galatasaray coached by Liverpool legend Graeme Souness. We discuss the passion of the incredible derbies with Fenerbahçe and his almost 10 years playing in Turkey.

He had the opportunity to serve an apprenticeship on his coaching journey at Sydney United, the AIS and the Joeys before taking on Head Coaching roles with the Joeys and the Australian U20 teams. Ufuk then served as an Assistant with Steve Corica at Sydney FC before taking on the Manager position at Wellington Phoenix, where his team consistently plays attractive and successful football.

Ufuk talks openly about his coaching journey, his learnings from Ange Postecoglou, developing young Kiwi footballers and the challenge of Australian junior coaches with so many players not getting enough game time.

Please join us in sharing Ufuk Talay’s Football Coaching Life.

Listen to the podcast or watch on FCA’s YouTube via the link here.

Australian football legend Gary Cole: “This is a wonderful time for the Socceroos and the Matildas”

World Cup

With the Socceroos having achieved a fifth straight FIFA World Cup qualification for the 2022 edition set to be held in Qatar, Soccerscene chatted with Australian football legend, Football Victoria Hall of Fame inductee, and Football Coaches Australia Executive Committee member Gary Cole to touch on the significance of the occasion and where Australian football goes from here.

Gary Cole

How momentous of an occasion is this qualification?

Gary Cole: It’s probably not quite as big as qualifying for the first time in ’74, and then going back in 2006. Because they were from huge periods of not going – this is the fifth time in a row now. I think given how tough this qualification has been on the coaching and playing staff – with COVID quarantine, isolation and playing 16 out of 20 games away from home – it’s a remarkable achievement. And all power to Graham Arnold, his coaching team and the playing group that’s been there over the journey. It’s been Australian Socceroos being proud to wear the green and gold and doing everything they could to get us to another World Cup.

With yourself being such a significant part of Australian football’s history and now being a part of Football Coaches Australia, what’s it like for you seeing Graham Arnold reach what appears to be a definitive moment in his journey so far?

Gary Cole: Arnie’s been a wonderful servant of Australian football for such a long time now as a player and then as a coach. In his role as Socceroos coach, he jumped in to get the group to the Olympics and was doing two jobs during COVID.

In his time as a coach, he’s been incredibly giving to not just other Australian coaches and Football Coaches Australia, but coaches in general. He’s been battered from pillar to post, because not every soccer fan in Australia is a Graham Arnold fan. To think there were some people talking about not wanting to see Australia qualify because Graham would get his just desserts, well the just desserts for Graham are the fact that the team did qualify.

You couldn’t wish for success on anyone more than Graham. It’s no different from Ange doing what he did the last qualifying campaign through essentially the same process, albeit without COVID. I just can’t speak highly enough of the man and the way he’s carried himself throughout all of this. Most people didn’t know that he spent time in quarantine in a hotel by himself and was the only guest at the hotel. He moved to the UK and stayed at his grandma’s place to be around the team when people were locked down. Then he got hung, drawn and quartered because he dared to take his dog out for a walk. It is just fantastic to see, and I know how much it’ll mean for Graham as well. There’s a great joy in it for every soccer fan in the country, I think.

Socceroos Vs Peru

It’s pretty remarkable that the 2022 World Cup in Qatar will see the Asian Football Confederation represented by a record six national teams – Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Japan, Iran, South Korea and now, Australia. What do you think that signals about Asian football and where it’s at?

Gary Cole: I just think that there should be a red flashing light and a siren sounding the alarm if we needed that. We moved into Asia with the golden generation team and the region was in awe of our players playing in the Premier League. And even going further back than that in the 70s and 80s when I played, the Asian players have always been technically good but physically we were strong and could intimidate, and we won a lot of games in Asia that way.

Now of course the investment in Asian football, and not just the ‘big six’ but across the entire depth and breadth of Asia, has been heavy because in most of the countries it’s the number one sport. There’s been heavy investment into player development, coaching development and facility development, with a growth in players, coaches and administrators and because of where football is in Australia, we just haven’t seen that same level of investment and the truth is that they’ve caught us up. And many of them have gone by us.

Countries like Thailand and Vietnam have proved that on any given day they can beat us as well, because their investment in football is there. It’s fantastic for the region because we went into Asia and we wanted to have that regular contest, we didn’t actually think that would mean it would be harder for us to qualify. Because it’s not proved a whole bunch easier. But it is great that at all levels we get that regular competition and we can continue to grow our game and get better across all levels of it, if we’re going to be successful in Asia going forward.

With the Socceroos qualifying for the World Cup this year and the Matildas set to co-host a massive Women’s World Cup next year with New Zealand, it seems like there’s a lot of positivity in Australian football currently. How do you think the game’s leading stakeholders and authorities can capitalise on this moment?

Gary Cole: If you look back in our history, one of the most significant challenges we’ve had is that we’ve been divided. For some reason we find it incredibly difficult to get on the same page. This is a wonderful time for the Socceroos and the Matildas. We’ve got Trevor Morgan and our under 23s in a semi-final against Saudi Arabia in the AFC U-23 Asian Cup as well.

There’s so much happening with our national teams, men and women. If we can get more people on the same page then the game is going to be better for it. It will continue to grow and go up but we sort do that begrudgingly with an anchor around our neck. Watching the Socceroos game yesterday, how good were those Peru fans? And what you know is that’s a country where, I’m sure they don’t agree on everything, but when they come together and they put on that red and white it means so much. Wouldn’t it be immense in five or even 10-years’ time that’s the football culture that is developing here in Australia? That only comes from being on the same page.

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