Back to the East Coast for this small but important step forward in linking the games huge junior base to the HAL
Central Coast Mariners, not for the first time in the club’s short history, is leading the way in community engagement.
Bravo to all involved in Central Coast Football. You have demonstrated leadership and shown the way forward for the rest of the country.
In the early years of the A-League Mariners committed its players to meaningful roles within the grassroots community, with senior players adopting a number of junior clubs and becoming recognised mentor figures.
Players attended training sessions, club functions and got to know the volunteers and kids at the clubs to which they were responsible. It was a world away from the out-dated ‘solitary visit model’, where a group of athletes comes to a club or school for one visit, then disappears.
Now the club has done it again, signing a landmark agreement with Central Coast Football (CCF) which brings the entire local football program under the Mariners banner. Where there once may have been disconnect between the A-League franchise and local clubs, there is now an elite coherent pathway for junior players aspiring to reach the top level.
It’s fantastic to see. Two groups in football have got together to find a solution for a fractured system where young players don’t know which way to turn, whether to play for development squads of the local association, the state body or the A-League club.
What they’ve created is a fully integrated, top-to-bottom pathway which allows every talented child the opportunity to train for Mariners and dream of a professional career.
It’s refreshing to see. Too often in our game different parties are too interested in advancing their own agendas, protecting their turf, keeping hold of their talent and making the mistake of thinking they own a talented player.
Rarely are the competing demands on young players ever considered.
Speaking this week to a youth coach of elite girls, I was told of how a Football NSW development camp had been scheduled at a critical time of the season, jeopardising all the important work carried out over many months.
Some girls had to pull out to take part in NSW Combined High Schools (CHS) trials. The school system hadn’t considered the effect on club football. A few weeks later, some girls had to leave before the finals series because they had club futsal trials for a league starting many months later.
There was no consideration of the training load on the girls as each different organisation fought to get their piece of the talented players with with scant regard for the other sectors within the game.
Each of these competitions has its own vested interest and with a limited talent pool, the same girls or boys are training and playing in the same elite competitions across all of these areas, with no co-ordination whatsoever.
The effect on player development is alarming. With some kids playing and training so much, they are breaking down physically in their early teens because they are in a State development program, attending a school with its own elite development program training and playing club football simultaneously.
It’s a total mess and parents of talented children spend a fortune in time and money trying to navigate through the system to find the best solution for their child.
It is all the same game and we need to ensure that our talented youngsters are educated correctly, nurtured scientifically, directed properly and supported thoroughly.
In order to succeed as a football nation, we cannot afford any ‘wastage’ from the system. Children must be tracked and monitored and given every chance to succeed methodically and sustainably, for their health and the health of their career.
We need Football Federation Australia to develop an integrated system that takes into account all club, school and elite programs and to track each talented player to ensure they are being taught by trained educators but not overloaded.
The first step is for all elite programs to come under the A-League clubs, like what’s happened at Mariners, to ensure everything the child does is geared towards playing in the A-League and thereafter, internationally.
Every grassroots region of the country should be a part of an A-League club catchment area, both recreational and elite development programs, to finally integrate the game from bottom to top and drive everyone in the game into the stadia to support our professional league.
Congratulations to the Central Coast football community, I love what you’ve done for the simple reason that it is the best interests of the children and the game. You are the benchmark for the rest to follow.
One caveat, though. At the end of the press release it says the ‘agreement is subject to relevant approvals by FFA and FNSW.’
That could be where the problem lies.
source:http://theworldgame.sbs.com.au/craig-fo ... le-for-all