Love Han Berger - love his work and what he's doing for the game in Australia but there are a couple of areas where he and the FFA Technical Group need to improve and could improve our players, all our players more quickly.
The revolution is on - for some, but very slowly in some areas.
In Canberra for example in clubland we are a long long way behind what constitutes technical development.
Check out your club, any club - how many coaches of boys and girls from 7-12 would you be really really confident they were improving your players? It's not a big list is it?
No criticism of club or coaches - we're all volunteers and it's not an easy gig to turn up each winter night never mind knowing what you are doing and looking ahead and being able to realise and assist where players could head.....in a technical sense.
Disagreement number 1:
Han Bergers often cites the point of coaches structuring training too much at this
age. 5-10 years.
All quotes are from this months 442 Magazine - go and buy it it's great!
Just let these young kids play and discover
what they can and cannot do with a ball. The game ís the best teacher ot this age,the reason the Brazilians and Africans are technically so good: is not because of their 'system' but because they developed naturally."
Most players between 5-10 are only playing really when they are at training or playing a game in Australia. Sure some play at school in the yard - but many boys and girls come to clubland play their game and go home. Just "letting them play" improves nothing. Not in an African, Brazilian or an Aussie.
"Let them play" is great if you run outside after school and play, play in school and before school. Play on the weekends etc.
How many kids do you know in Australia who do that? And indeed there are many talented potential players who will never develop between 5-10 if they are not at least shown how to kick the ball - instep control doesnt come naturally to most kids - just come down to my club and watch the kids who we "just let play."
Once a week training - once a Saturday. For 16 weeks. Not enough is it Han?
Disagreement No. 2: Agree with Han - disagree with Capital Football on this one.
The next step between 10 - 13 ‘Skill Acquisition training becomes more structured and the emphasis is placed on developing a technical foundation. “This age is, in terms of physical und mental development ofc child, the ideal period to develop motor skills," explains Berger.
Take a look at what Han says and take a look at the Capital Football Elite program for boys and girls. Under 10 boys have a squad - under 10 girls don't. Why? We have a professional women's team in Canberra but no boys team. So if you can justify that to me I'll buy you lunch....mate!
No Elite Girls under 10 in Canberra? How does that fit with Han's recommendations?
Technical Development Disagreement Number 3:
up to seven years the game is played four v four then from eight and nine it's 7 v 7, ten and eleven is nine versus-nine an increasíngly large
playing field," Says Berger. "From there We switch to the big field. These so-called Small Sided Game formats are still not generally accepted everywhere in Australia, which I amazing because everywhere else in the world people udnerstand the rationale of this.
I think player technical development in clubland would be developed more quickly and further if:
Players played 7 v 7 at 10 and 11, 9 v 9 at 12 on smaller pitches.
Players at Under 12 PSSA, Under 13 National Championships and in all club games didn't play on massive Hawker pitches or massive pitches at your local club. Majura, my club, has moved to put all 12,13 14 and 15 year old games where possible on our smallest pitches next season. We're focusing on skill development.
We're ahead of Capital Football on this one - but they'll catch us up in time!
Why would a club throw the SSG philosophy out at 12 - especially in clubland where we have no pressure to win really do we?
Australian Technical Director talks of pitch sizes, all the coaching courses talk of changing the training area to suit the drills, so why does your local club and association and national body choose huge pitches for 12 and 13 year olds.
Is your local 12 year old boy or girl Brett Emerton? Do the huge spaces improve skill and technique?
Many kids might be playing a lot of football but the quality is important, not the quantity. We are convinced our programs deîiver the best quality."
Well I don't agree with this - many players are playing two Capital Football sessions, or three, Futsal, and Capital Futsal Nationals. that's five sessions minimum a week for our best of the best. Is it effective training, in every age group for the group or more importantly individual players?
I've seen a number of sessions and coaches over the years - some have been brilliant, absolutely first class - some Coaches have been on their mobile phones during sessions!
Are individual player skills and weaknesses really targeted and improved quickly in such a training model? Food for thought for 12/13 year olds? Not all players are at the same level when they enter these programs.
And finally Han and I agree:
I'm convinced the 1-4-3-3 formation offers some clear advantages. However, the
medía ran off with it and suggested I wanted everybody in Australia, from the lowest to the highest level, to play 1-4-3-3.
Got to agree with you there Han, Mike Cockerill and co often miss the point and finer details of football in my view - the system is a great teacher for kids, clubs and their coaches and gives everyone an insight into football tactics, roles etc. Once everyone knows the system and the roles who knows where the discussions along the sidelines at grassroots level might lead.
And finally Han can we have a curriculum?
Han and co talk of the national curriculum - it's more a national outline isn't it.
When I was teaching Economics the curriculum showed me what I needed to do at each age level, each month, each week.
So isn't it about time we, the grassroots gurus got to see what the curriculum, detailed curriculum is for each age group of should I just keep making it up.
And while you're at it can you give some technical guidance to our futsal grassroots coaches and associations - how much could that improve technique.
Han - it's not all about the boys, it's not all about the elite, and I'd encourage you to go further and adopt all of my points above and see Australian football take the next step...at all levels of the game.
Won't it be a great day when players can break into Australian teams and never have been through a State Association elite program? Imagine a player rocking up from a local club highly developed technically and able to fit into the playing system based on the knowledge he/she has been given by her club.
Maybe this should be a goal!