Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Football Kulture: Finnish style

Canberra Rad Trpkovski is taking a group of Woden Valley Under 15 Boys to play in Finland, England, France and Holland in July. See earlier post for podcast of Rad and the trip. No easy task and hats off again to Woden Valley.

But he also mentioned he's arranged for his daughter, who will travel with the group, to play a game in the tournament with a Helsinki local Under 13 side.

"How good is your team," said Rad to the local Finnish Coach
"Mid-table in Divison 1, they go okay."
"How often do they train, my daughter's team does an hour or so a week," said Rad.
"The girls train on grass under a dome four times a week, one and half hours each time," informed the Finnish Coach

Imagine the reaction you'd get from the team and the parents doing that with an Under 13 girls team in Australia.

Stop laughing.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

And that's the problem with football in this country! we don't do enough enough work at teh individual level to get a lot better.

But before someone suggests that we have never done this in sport - well think again.

We have many thousands of young swimmers in Australia doing a minimum of five training sessions a week between 1 - 2 hours per session. Thousands of them! As they get really good the training effort escalates and that is well before we talk about "State Academy", "AIS scholarships" or making an Australian age team and so on. They were training while the Near Post was being braodcast and will do so early in the mornings when most of us are sound asleep.

The result?

Australia is a leader in world swimming. No one questions it, because hard work in trainig and lots of it over a long time, together with available facilties and good coaching produces very good results.

Sponsorship dollars do not find their way down to talented swimmers at age in the clubs around Australia. It's no different in swimming clubs than it is for most of our football clubs and damn nearly all of our Premier League football clubs in the ACT. We run on the smell of an oily rag.

Now ask yourself why we are nowhere near the top of the tree in football, by comparison to swimming.

I have no doubt that many parents would be horrified if the local club junior coach said that he or she wants to train the Under 11s Red Div team every morning before school. Its hard enough getting them all to two short sessions after school.

The same parents want little Bill and Betty to be cracking good football players - without the sacrfices, without the hard work. That's the reality for many.

Our Captiol Football Academy program, which is shamefully elitest and discrimantory because it imposes a large fee for service (which many cannot afford)and only attends to a select few footballers at age (which leaves out others), doesn't seem to come anywhere near the rate of training effort that swimming clubs require of their swimmers on an ordinary basis - and all year round. As to coaching expertise, well that's another matter for debate (as it sometimes is in swimming clubs).

Of course there are some other differences that are instructive. The are a number of swimming clubs to choose from and they work all the year round. The competitoon never stops, like the training.The key coaching staff are professionals with appropriate qualifications. If you don't like a coach or a club you move to another and the training continues unabated.

There are many football clubs and not all are competing teams at the same levels,nearly all are based in almost every respect on volunteer effort, they run part the year and train part the year - never all the year, their coaches are a patchwork quilt with too many unqualified and poor technical developers, and of course, unpaid.

In other words, the structural arrangements for football do not make it easy to do what swimming has done, but they do provide a basis for development. The only one we have got here in the ACT.
We have an "academy" but it services relatively few players and takes players away from clubs, without helping to build club capacity. Again, it doesn't (of itself) enable football to move to the same committment levels as we see undertaken by dedicated swimmers (at any age). So seem to be are stuck and its not surprise that we have review after review for marginal forward progress!

We further compound the problem by returning Academy players to clubs when they can no longer remain with the academy. Training standards drop at club level. No one trains every day. No wonder swimmers look on bemused at footballers when they talk about how much they train. Footballers with aspirations and a willingness to do more and become better footballers are left high and dry, without the slightest assistance from Capitol Football and no means to do so at cash strapped and volunteer based football clubs.

Swimmers pay fees to train. Its real value for money! Footballers pay are registration fee every season to play. If you want your young players to get first class technical training (with a curriculum and well qualified coaches) then there is only one alternative in the ACT - Ceorver - it costs money, but its hourly rate is very favourable and genuine value for money. They make a difference.But only those with the available disposable income can access this option. It's like any other commodity - if you want it and can afford it and able to purchase it, good luck to you.

The Capitol Football Academy is an arm of the governing body for football in the ACT. It exists (in part) to ensure that football can accessed by all those able and willing to play. But play is different to pay! The Acdemy charge is a lot for the services said to be provided and its a matter of opinion as to whether this constitutes value for money. But is this the model of an academy that will see all our young players move closer to the ordinary training levels undetaken by competiton swimmers (at all ages)? Clearly it is not!

Is it any wonder we are not doing well as we might in football? The technical review that has been spoken of is important, a curriculum is useful, but how do you enable parents to embrace and support the requirement for football training as other parents do in swimming? Until we get closer we will not get better. Review football till you are blue in the face, the example has been with us for generations - swimming.

And what of musicians and dancers and those young Australians that compete for the science olympiad, or the children that form the choral group in my son's school and compete and gvie recitals? You think they get good on one or two training sessions a week? The hell they do! The boys who play football for this school do a good deal less and you know the rest.

Football is every bit as important as the rest. Time Capitol Football saw this problem in a new light and got itself organised to deal with it. That's where the leadership must come from.