Why is Australia so far behind the rest of the world in football development?
Why are colleges struggling to engage our young people?
Why do many children hate college?
Why do so many children come home from college with loads of homework?
As a parent of three young boys the above questions are very relevant to me, but it wasn’t until my children started college that these questions became very real. Further, when my eldest son started playing football, (it was once called soccer and now I call it football too), I started to look around for opportunities for him to develop his game.
This marked the beginning of my foray into football research and I continue to be awed by the complexities and skills of the “world sport”.
There is still much for me to learn to truly understand this game, however, I have been lucky enough to be able to surround myself with some of the best footballers in this country and their frustration has confirmed to me that there has to be a better way to develop our young players.
Fifteen years ago I worked for a self-development company. During this time, I took part in a project to ‘develop a dream’ that could one day be turned into a reality. I remember very clearly creating a super college. With my love for sport at that time, I envisaged a college with vast grounds and fantastic facilities, where the coaches really understood how to encourage youth to be the best they could be. The classrooms did not resemble a traditional classroom at all; here, the teachers worked with the students rather than instructed them. The teachers were there to guide the student’s discoveries. It was an inspirational concept and a dream that gave me butterflies every time I thought about it.
Time passed though, and I returned to the Corporate grind where my focus was on everyday life and my wife and I starting a family. I retrained as a teacher when my eldest son was very young and returned to the education sector as a newly trained, although slightly older teacher. After being in the classroom for almost six years I had a friend express to me his dissatisfaction with his own son’s football development and also his frustration at his son’s college experience. The dream I’d had so many years previously was reignited.
About two years ago I did a lot of research into football development, looking at what happens around the world. I found that the countries leading the world in this area do one major thing different to Australia. They integrate college and football. They focus intensely on development when children are between 8-10 years old in order to create an environment where the players achieve up to 10,000 hours of practice by the time they leave college.
I started to wonder what could be done in Australia and how I, just a classroom teacher, could gather people together to help me to do something about this.
Time has passed very quickly since then and I have been lucky to have found a team of people who have helped me make my dream come true, almost! We are only a few months away from 2013 and I can honestly say that I can now see the dream I had so many years ago becoming a reality. The amount of work that has been done over the past 2 years has blown me away and sometimes I have to pinch myself to realise that it is real.
In 2013 we will be opening the first college in Australia where all of the students are sports people. The entire student body will be involved in a five day-a-week football development program that is incorporated into the college day. We are in the process of completing a lease on one of the best venues on the Central Coast and have a team of football professionals who have developed our football program. Sometimes I wish I was 10 years old again.
Beyond our football program I have been very fortunate in finding educators who are also passionate about challenging the status quo in the classroom. This is an area I am very excited to see become a reality and 2013 can’t come quickly enough.
I invite you to join me on this journey and be part of the IFS family. I will endeavour to keep those interested in our journey up to date by writing additions to this blog over the coming months. In the meantime I will release short updates via our email list.
Thank you for taking time from your busy life to find out a bit more about the IFS project.
Founder and CEO Central Coast Sports College