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Pathway to pro-football

In these trying times with football at a complete stop, many of us face uncertainty involved with the beautiful game. Isolation has provided everyone involved with football an opportunity to reflect and access themselves on many levels so I thought it would be a great time to share my experienced views on pathways for aspiring footballers in the UK.

Being involved daily in the game, it certainly opened my eyes and views on the progressive's required for players to evolve to become pro in England. They're many pathways to making a healthy living from football, and for some it may come easier than others. Whilst every youth or SAP players ultimately believes that they can make it, the reality will be dream rather than a reality. Not being harsh, but watching players being released from pro-academies in the UK is difficult to swallow.

So, what chance does an Australian player have in the UK? Comparing the structures between the 2 nations I can only say that the governing bodies in OZ need to review and make changes immediately in order to give them a chance. What are the differences? Firstly, players in the UK aged between U9-U12 when playing will play for a duration of two 40minute halves, unlike in Australia where its two 20-25 minute halves. UK players will also play potentially 2 games per week when required being league and cup games, this giving them an opportunity to play in 2-3 leagues if you would call it that. More games equals better development and more game time for all. These kids may also need to play for the school they attend, as the football programs in every school is massive. Remember, a school for example based in Manchester could have a huge number of players from pro academies in their respective age groups or school year. England has approximately 90+ professional football clubs across the country as opposed to Australia only having currently only eleven.

Does this mean Aussie players are not good enough? I believe we are good enough, its just the system in Australia that lets the players down. I know we've heard it all before and we say, to become a pro you need to leave Australia. But, what can the FFA and the state federations do to change this outcome? Every year or two FNSW changed the goalposts whilst i was involved in coaching, 90% of all players from U9 to U20s change clubs nearly every season. Why? Can a club sustain a philosophy and develop their players whilst signing them for longer than a season? Does this eventually play on kids minds because coaches have been changing players looking for the next big thing? What are they looking for? Rooney? Lampard? Christiano? Kane? Cmon, I seriously doubt it. Do parents play a massive role in the players success? Absolutely. What mindset are the governing bodies putting everyone in? I can answer that but I won't.

An Aussie player i had sent to Stoke City fc was offered a trialing period of 8 weeks. 5 weeks into the trial period the head of recruitment rings me and offers a two and a half year contract. Stoke decided to invest in this player as they believed he could be the right type of player that could potentially play for the first team. This is how it needs to be structured is Australia in my opinion. Yes, the player could become complacent with the knowing he has a contract for many years to come and could be detrimental to development, but he and the family could be advised that we could release him at any time if his development hasn't improved. Basically, a performance based job. Us parents that put food on the table work in the same system. You don't perform, you lose your job. What a great way to nourish a kids mind on the value of commitment instead of the unknown certainty of what lies ahead. My point is, all this starts in the mind guys, if the mindset is not right, the progression will not be rewarding.

Every journey is different and success comes at different times of every players career, some players don't mature till they are in their early 20s, other mature earlier. We all know the Jamie Vardy story. He got his break in his early 20s whilst playing non-league football. Did he give up? NO. He kept working hard and had the correct mindset, eventually grafting a pathway for himself from Fleetwood to Leicester city fc. Anything is possible once you have the correct mindset. This needs to be utilised from a very early stage in life, and the correct structure to be in place for our next generation of talented players.

If the structure in Australia isn't corrected, the reality is players will need to leave Australia to further their career, even playing semi-pro if possible is still a better place to be in rather than the current system in Australia. I have seen many situations on many different aspects and constantly compare the 2 different nations, and if you would like to have a chat about potentially gaining trials in the UK, please don't hesitate to contact as i may be of assistance. Thanks for reading.


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