Previously, we mentioned the necessity of a Fundamental Transformation, but why is it necessary to change the way we play (and coach) football?
After all, in the not too distant past Australian football produced many great players who played in the top leagues of Europe, while the Socceroos qualified for the World Cups in 2006, 2010 and 2014 and the Matildas were crowned Asian Champions in 2010.
Australia’s average FIFA world ranking, since starting in 1993, is 46th. Our lowest position was 89th in 1999 and the highest was 21st in 2009. Our average position in women’s football is 12th, ranging from 16th to 9th since ranking started in 2003.
These are commendable achievements in a country where historically football has not been the number one sport.
But for some reason Australia has not produced the same number of top players in recent years and fewer Australians are starters at clubs in the European top leagues.
There are many theories and opinions about the cause of this, but what is not in doubt is that top football has developed physically - but especially technically - to a breathtaking level over the last 10-15 years.
The modern game at the highest level is a fast, high intensity, possession-based game where ‘special’ players with match-winning qualities make the difference.
Another reality is that the changing dynamics of the football landscape force us to adjust in order to stay competitive with the rest in the world.
What worked for us 20 years ago, doesn’t necessarily work anymore. Today, for example, more players go overseas at ever younger ages.
Also, the introduction of the A-League forced us to revise the AIS program where the career of many of the ‘golden generation’ started.
Since the AIS program is aimed at Australia’s best young players, and in order to avoid competition with the A-League clubs for the same players, we had to significantly lower the age of the AIS program from Young Socceroos age (U/19-20) to Joeys age (U/16-17).
The responsibility for the development of the 17-21 year old players rests now with the A-League clubs through the National Youth League teams.
The connection between the programs of State and Territory Member Federations that underpin the National programs also required reviewing and adjustment.
The government-run State Institutes of Sport have in recent years moved away from the football programs to primarily focus on ’Olympic’ sports.
In order to safeguard this important layer of the talented player pathway, FFA and the Member Federations have taken over the ownership of these National Training Centre programs.