Leaving Sydney in 2018 has been difficult to say the least, as a father, a football coach and a husband. Leaving everything behind everything we've ever known, friends, family etc. My family and i set off on a journey to change our future and potentially provide my children different opportunities, learn a different culture and diversity.
Being involved with Football and Futsal with Sydney Olympic and Sutherland Sharks back in OZ i knew that i had to get involved in the beautiful game where it all began. Coming to a city (Manchester) that i have previously visited over the last few years coaching on football tours and bringing my son who ultimately fell in love with playing football in the UK, provided me with a desire if you could call it to pursue some kind of football business that i could not only help my son, but others who genuinely wanted to follow in similar footsteps. Let's get real. I think every footballer from the age of 6years old to 25 years has dreamed of leaving Australia and playing in England for a big club.
Just the idea ignited something in me on how to make this happen for aspiring footballers and helping these dreams become a reality.
How can i make this happen? How do i create a network of contacts? How do i begin? Will i gain the attention of Pro-Clubs? Why would they listen to me? These are all questions that are on repeat in my brain, over and over and over.
Having left my son in Manchester previously with other carers and coaches and having been blindsided through broken promises, this had left me understanding that its not that easy (a blog for another day).
Creating pathways for players from abroad can be difficult with the current structure and set-ups at pro and semi-pro academies in the UK. From my experience their are many factors required for success or even a sniff at being invited for a trial at a pro-club or semi-pro club as i found out. How can i get players looked at by the right people? The answer is a variable, as i know ask myself. How can i provide players with GENUINE opportunities in English football? Again, it's a question that is fuelled by opinions. Every club and recruitment team are looking and monitoring for a different type of player based on their own opinion, also analysing different aspects on every individual. A parents opinion in this scenario is invalid and will always be invalid because of the emotional attachment.
Opinions on players, games, training, winning are all very similar to Australians involved with football back home, as a parent i also have an opinion on many things and agree and disagree with many situations in football in England. Am i right? Am i wrong? It's an opinion, and that's all it is. Scouts and recruitment teams in the UK have a process, many analyse in different ways and identify differently. Why is this so? Again, it comes down to what they look for in players. Most times clubs here will have a player on trial for 6-8weeks, and probably won't start making actual decision till after the 4-5 week period. In Australia, i have attended many trials and been part on many trial processes with other coaches from the football clubs i'm working for and we have disagreed or agreed on players and mostly all needing to be done in about 90 minutes. I'm sure many of you have attended these kind of trials and walked away shaking your head whilst your child has a tear in their eyes because they wanted to play in that team for different reason and your wondering my son/daughter is better than half the players there. Different process at every club! I once had to educate a coach at a football club on a player for selection in his team, identify his attributes, his football brain, his first touch, etc., half way through the season i asked him. Hows little Jimmy going? He responded with a smile, "He's one of my best players". All in the space of 90 minutes. Another scenario, i has a player turn up to a trial that was 2 years younger than my team they was trialing for. The coach from the age group below was present and i said to the coach, do you know this player? Have you seen them play? He answered, "yes, not my cup of tea". Why? its my pet hate when i hear these responses. What defined a good player to him? This particular day I immediately took the trial session myself and set up creating an individual skill session. Well, after the session i signed that player in an age group 2 years above the age they should be playing. That coach then commented "i got that one wrong". Like i say to everyone, a player has a long journey, their football career will be filled with highs and lows, success and disappointment, hard work and discipline. My choice that day being opinionated of fuelled by a response that i wasn't fond of proved to be very valuable to the players journey.
How to make a footballer successful from Australia to play in England?
Having now spent 2 years in England with over 80 players directly involved travelling to the the UK with Global Football Network, i can honestly say their are many factors and attributes a player needs to bring with them. Mind-set i would say is at the top of the list. Without the right mind-set a player will fail 99% of the time. Having the right mind-set will allow the player to adapt to the differences sooner than later, the right mind-set will allow a player to bounce back from failure and rejection, the right mind-set will allow the player to change the way they do things on day to day situations involving everything thrown at them in football and life. Let's face the facts, anything you do in life comes with failure, sacrifice before you see success.
How long will it take me to sign at a pro-club? Can you get me a trial at Manchester United? Can you get me a trial at Manchester City?
Probably the most asked questions i get asked by players and their parents! The answers don't exist. How could i possibly answer that question? In a perfect world every parent/player would jump at the opportunity if it presented itself to be at such prestigious football clubs. The facts are, clubs like City and United have huge recruitment numbers with staff that work hard to find the next Rashford or Aguero or other similar great players. They have deep pockets and are willing to spend the money early when they see players from a young age to help them develop into world class players.
Players that i have worked with in Manchester who have been playing in Sydney Australia previously has been very rewarding. Coming from a diverse culture us Aussies do have a winning mentality and the lads who have been part of the full-time player program that i have developed have found themselves successful at some points during their journey with GFN. My aim is to not only create better footballers that can adapt in multiple situations on the pitch whilst playing, but how they can change their approach to being the best version of themselves off the pitch that reflects at training and playing the game. They've all shown me how they can adjust to highs and lows through failure and success during their stay in Manchester and certainly gained massively from the experience.
What are the differences between elite football (NPL) to pro academy football?
To answer this question from my experience is something that i have been fortunate enough to gain through the network of people i have met whilst involved through, watching training sessions, coaching against pro and semi-pro academies, speaking to academy directors, academy coaches, heads of recruitment, pro players, first team managers, watching many games during the week from every level like grass-roots to pro. What their approach is pre-match to post-match, training preparation, session progression, power development, attitudes, and much more. The list is massive, the effort is huge, the education behind the scenes of everyone involved at a football club and their approach are second to none. I often speak to many friends and colleagues from sydney and discuss many things all football and the differences between the way football is run in NSW, we discuss many topics, conversations I've had with people involved with people from grass-roots to professional. Like the day i met the Gaffa from Manchester United (Ole Gunnar) speaking to him for an hour and a half on player development and breaking into a pro. (a blog for another day)
I've been very fortunate in meeting many people since starting Global Football Network Uk and will be sharing it with you in the weeks to come. Stay home and stay safe in these worrying times so we can all soon get back to beautiful game that we love.
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