Tuesday, July 07, 2009


KNVB-all and End-all - update, Part 2

Perhaps the most controversial aspect of the FFA's new curriculum is the mandatory adoption of a 4-3-3 system for the various youth sides. Rather strangely, the formation is described as 1-4-3-3 in the document, in Football-for-Dummies style.

Among the coaches I've talked to recently, there has been a broad consensus that 4-3-3 is not a bad place to start. It is, after all, a flexible formation up to a point, although with some of the intricate variations mentioned by its proponents, one wonders whether there is any need to delineate the formation at all beyond a back four.

The main objection I have to the compulsory use of a single tactical setup for developmental sides is twofold. Firstly, however you twist and shake it, the clever second striker type will probably find himself (or herself - the formation is mandated for the women's sides as well) ill-suited to the formation. In my view, if a coach is good enough to be appointed to a position as coach of a national team, at any level, they should be adaptable enough to accentuate the strengths of their individual players, even if this means altering a default tactical setting.

Secondly, if things clearly aren't working after half an hour, and a tactical change is in order, will coaches feel themselves able to act (as Guus Hiddink famously did against Uruguay in Sydney)? And will the players be able to adapt, if they have been drilled (however well) in a single modus operandi?

There's an interesting phrase in the section of the document dealing with this stipulation, too:

This style (4-3-3) will therefore be mandated for all FFA-controlled development teams.

The wording is a tad ambiguous. Is this simply all the national youth sides (as most would assume), or the teams from the state institutes and so forth as well? It would be good to have some clarification here.

Moving on to the matter of accreditation and rating. First, the preamble:

Multiple entities (e.g. clubs, associations, schools, and private academies) are involved in the development of talented players and we expect that to continue. These entities can differ dramatically in the contribution they make to talent development – but currently the differences are often not readily apparent in advance to potentially talented young players and their parents.

Translation: there are some shonky academies out there taking parents for a ride, and we intend to police them a bit more closely. Laudable.

But "entities" that are genuniely doing much of the youth development grunt-work, especially the state league clubs, are likely to view this whole section of the document askance:

FFA and Member Federations will publicise and actively promote those entities that attain FFA Accreditation and Rating.

Accreditation is to be achieved by:

(e.g. employment of accredited coaches; adherence to FFA curriculum)

And Rating, far more worryingly:

(e.g. improvement in player skills; young players selected for representative teams)

Whoa, whoa. Who selects these teams? And who is responsible for rating? The new State Technical Director, a new position created under the new curriculum to oversee the technical development in the individual states, and the implementation of the curriculum?

The opportunities for cronyism, conflicts of interest and the settling of old scores are obvious.

The big question, of course, is how far the FFA technical crew are prepared to pry into the on-field affairs of the clubs which have been at the coalface of youth development for decades. If they tread gently and supportively, then the curriculum could be a modest success. If they go in all guns blazing, they could create something of a civil war in Australian football.

tis a very interesting relationship between leaders and the lead.

if ffa can`t get the states to play nice with the AIS (recently re entry in the NSW prem or Vic prem leagues), and they can`t get nsw to play nice with the ACT, i would say there are some real limits to what they can mandate.

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