- Parents and football insiders have taken aim at Football NSW’s system to develop youth players…
Parents and football insiders have taken aim at Football NSW’s system to develop youth players, accusing clubs of running a cliquey and “cut-throat” system not in the best interests of children or the game of soccer.
Multiple parents have described an unfair recruitment process for the skills acquisition programs (SAPs) and National Premier Leagues (NPL) teams, a cavalier attitude to children’s wellbeing and an emphasis on money.https://pepipost.com/49er/Whyte-v-Povetkin-liv-tvs171.html
https://pepipost.com/49er/Whyte-v-Povetkin-liv-tvs174.htmlim Apostolovski, the immediate past-president of Leichhardt Tigers Junior Soccer Club and a senior figure in the sport in NSW, said he had never supported the SAP system and agreed problems were rife because clubs were interested in “winning at any cost”.
Meanwhile, Craig Foster, a football commentator and former Socceroo, said while he was not involved with the SAP and NPL programs at all, “the high cost to play, particularly for talented player programs, is something the game has long avoided confronting”.
Mr Apostolovski said SAP system was meant to be about skills development and discovery but some clubs — and parents — were focused on competition, which changed how the children were selected and coached.
“Where it’s become very distorted is there’s an A team and a B team — I totally disagree with that,” Mr Apostolovski said. “You should have 20 kids who play together and some weeks they play in the red team and some in the white team.”
“SAP is meant to be about learning and experiencing the ball in a non-competitive environment — if it’s not that then make it a competition and revert it back to what it used to be in the ’80s and ’90s when there was a rep program,” he said.
Foster said the high fees meant the sport was not drawing talent from families who could not afford it, including thousands of Indigenous kids, families from culturally and linguistically diverse communities and refugees.
“Australia’s greatest generations of players did not arise in an environment where tens of thousands of dollars was a determinant, quite the contrary,” he said.
“Financial wherewithal should never be an indicator of sporting achievement, certainly not in the simple game the very nature of which is more inclusive than any other, just a ball and boots.”
Foster said it was not an easy problem to fix for a game starved of large broadcast fees and commercial revenue but it was “one that football needs to challenge itself to fix”.
Mr Apostolovski said the fees were about covering costs, especially for inner city clubs that had to pay councils huge sums for access to sporting fields. He said it should be free for promising youth players but that could only be achieved with the support of state and federal governments and the peak bodies.
The SAP and NPL trials, which have mostly happened in the past few weeks and are still ongoing at some clubs, are highly competitive for both boys and girls, with sometimes hundreds of children competing for a handful of places.
The Sun-Herald has spoken to a number of parents, many of whom asked to be anonymous because their children were still playing soccer and they feared retribution, about the process.
The clubs frequently run their trials on the same day or same weekend, which Mr Apostolovski believes is a deliberate attempt to force parents and players to choose.
Ms Talbot, the inner west soccer mum, said her daughter went to SAP trials at several clubs and she observed that children were typically pulled off the field to be offered a position in full view of their peers.
“Your child is left to play on with the knowledge that they have obviously not been the chosen one this time,” Ms Talbot said.
Another father, who grew up playing soccer in western Sydney and played professional football in Britain, said he took his daughter to try out for SAP programs at several clubs in the past few weeks.
He said at Gladesville Ravens, they pulled him and his daughter aside and offered her a spot — but only if he could immediately pay a $500 deposit to secure her place.
“They said ‘we need your $500 deposit right now otherwise I’m going to keep trialling and another girl is going to get this spot’,” he said. “They had a little setup under a marquee tent with an ATM machine.”
- Date of publication:
- Sat, 11/21/2020 - 15:03
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