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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Where next for New Zealand Soccer now that the Football World Cup is over for them?

Alama Moller kicking for Goal
Once the hoopla has died and the vuvuzelas of the SA World Cup are thankfully silent; where next for New Zealand soccer?

New Zealand's historic success at the tournament is brining in millions of windfall dollars for NZ Soccer and the ranks of junior soccer are already swelling to bursting.  Recalling past occasions of NZ success on the sporting stage, there usually follows much talk with little action, much expenditure and little to show once the hype has settled and the money gone.

Sports that have had their chances in the past and blown them include squash, tennis, golf, hockey, kayaking and athletics - and soccer - of course!  The outstanding exception to the sorry NZ trend to squander fantastic opportunities is rowing (I hope).

Millions of dollars are coming into Soccer's coffers and it looks like millions will quickly go out in what may be vain efforts to retain the services of Coach, Riki Herbert, and the core of his All Whites team.  And I suppose the swelling leadership ranks will need hefty pay rises, new cars and then there are all those first class flights getting to talkfests to figure out what to do with all that extra dosh!

How much will be left over for developing the sport at the grass roots?  If we look to sports like tennis and rugby, we can see the damage that is done to their grass root support when the professional side of the sport receives a disproportionate share of the limited resources.

The longterm health of a sport depends on a strong base of amateur participation, including volunteer coaching - Kill these off and you kill the sport.

I want to see most of soccer's financial windfall going into developing and supporting a strong coaching structure.  The basic resources, including courses, for coaching development are already there via agencies like Regional Sports Trusts and SPARC; but it all comes down to how well they are used by the sports code.  The club all my children have gone through (A period spanning 22yrs) relies entirely on volunteer "parent" coaching.  There is little in the way of coach education and support for these coaches through the season and, oh what a difference a little would make to the enjoyment for the kids and the quality of play!

Several good coaches can produce a dozen skilled athletes each per year for the same investment that might be made in one skilled athlete who may never come to anything.

Investment in coaching development could be as simple for a club as having one or two senior coaches (who attend the formal coaching courses, sit their exams, etc) who's job it is to circulate among the volunteer coaches during team training sessions and games.  Their job is to assist the volunteers with whatever is needed to improve their individual coaching standards, as well as to foster a positive consistency across the entire coaching pool.

If youngsters are to stay in the sport beyond their junior years they must develop is a love of the game, good basic skills and fitness - and the thrill of winning which will come as a result of the former basics.

If New Zealand is to fully capitalise on its World Cup success, then we need to concentrate on coaching development.

Good coaches produce winners

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