Monday, October 20, 2014

Part One of Interview with former Socceroos great Peter Katholos

I ventured to the Football Depot shop in Belmore, Sydney to interview former Socceroos great Peter Katholos otherwise known as the “Kat". 

Katholos is a legend of Australian football, he played 25 games for Australia, he won Australian player of the year in 1982 and if you’ve never heard of him and you’re a football fan you should be ashamed of yourself.

So below is my conversation with Kat. No editing just the raw Q and A from my real conversation with one of Australia’s greatest ever midfielders. 

Here is Part One we talk about his time with Football NSW, the state of youth football in Australia and the Australian Institute of Sport program. 

A portion of this interview was featured in the English version of the Neos Kosmos Newspaper. Link here

Are you still working at the NSW skill acquisition program SAP?
No I finished about a year ago now.

What coaching are you doing now?
Just consulting work, individual players making them better

How long were you at SAP for?
For a year at Football NSW

What was your experience like coaching the under 9's through under-12’s?

I coached eastern zone which covers Canterbury District,, St George district and Eastern Suburbs I had all that area, it’s probably one of the main talent pool areas of Sydney.

We had so many players that trialled that year because so many players want to be involved with elite programs, which they call it an “elite” program, but that’s another story and we’ll talk about that later and it’s one of the reasons why I’m not involved anymore with the program because I don’t agree with its structure.

The whole thing needs revamping if we are going to a force in world football, this should be our aim.

Why do you put quotation marks around the word “elite”?

When you call it “elite” it means the best, a skill acquisition program that means you need to get best coaches that are able to coach skill. So Peter Katholos is involved great but who else with skill and technical know how?

So who else was involved?
No disrespect to the guys but what I’m saying to you is the leading program in football NSW for all those age groups and they engaged inappropriate coaches to teach skill. But the same scenario exists around Australia.

I read on the Football NSW website that they were trying to get qualified coaches.
It’s not about qualifications only. Listen to me here, it’s not about the qualifications.

They make it so it’s about the qualifications. This is not being a school teacher,it's demonstrating skill . And on those certificates every other country in the world, if you are a former player you would get exemptions for your coaching certificates, they would also encourage you , they would also put you through programs and you would not do the same as everybody else because you have played the game at the highest level.

No respect!

In this country we do the opposite. For instance I had to do a B License I paid $4000. No other country would do that except Australia for former international footballers.

Also there was no Curriculum. A skills acquisition program had no Curriculum and the program was endorsed by FFA .

So parents are paying for a skills acquisition program with no curriculum?
Ask this question! Where is the 40 week program that every coach in Australia follows? Where is the manual so everyone is uniformed to do everything the same in skill teaching?

It does not exist so everyone does their own thing. Is this an elite program?

So it was at the coach’s whim what they would teach those kids?
Yes. You got guidelines, they give you some four page info pack but that’s not the key. When I contacted Mr Han Berger Technical director of FFA at the time, I requested the curriculum for the forty week program that every coach follows in this country. I haven’t got a reply, it never existed.

Coerver coaching did have a program but they refused to purchase the licence. Incredible!!!!!

(Just  quick point here from me Con Stamocostas the interviewer. After this interview  I contacted Football NSW Technical Director Alex Tobin and asked him if he wanted to make a comment about what Katholos said regarding his  comments that Football NSW SAP had no curriculum but Tobin declined to comment. But he did say it was an important issue)

 What was the talk among the fellow coaches/players?
The same thing. One bloke tried to create his own 40 week SAP program to sell to the coaching department because it did not exist.

Well I was going ask you about the FFA curriculum and youth football. FFA's Head of National Performance Luke Casserly was quoted in the media saying: 

“We had a national competition where every club in the comp had a junior development system. Now the clubs don't have that.” 

What  are your thoughts on that?
Look it’s frustrating for me that I played the game at the highest level and I know what needs to be done. There are people that are running the coaching and the structure and they have no idea what is required to produce skillful footballers that this country needs.

We have so many talented kids in this country it’s not funny.

I coached kids in my SAP that I believed if I coached for three/four years they would definitely play for Australia they could also play overseas. But those players having seen them play recently they have not progressed as continuity with the same coaching method does not exist.

What would you recommend to parents? Should they go through private academies? That’s what a lot players are doing now, going through those systems.
That’s why these people with academies exist because there is no alternative offered by our football bodies.

There’s a gap in the market?
“Fozzie” (Craig Foster) turned around the other day wrote an article saying private academies are ripping parents off, although I agree some do, but wait a minute what is football NSW offering as an alternative?

What is FFA offering as an alternative? Where is the accreditation system for such academies? There should be excellence training centres around the country funded by the federations with top coaches coaching our best footballers. They don’t exist. I know, I have been on both sides of the fence.”

Wasn’t the curriculum that Han Berger made supposed to filter down to these programs?

Who is going to coach the coaches about the curriculum? The 4-3-3 or the 4-4-2? It’s okay bringing it out and saying this is what we are going to do.

But let’s analyse what did he (Han Berger) really actually bring out? He brought something out that we already knew. I had one from 1979 from Jimmy Shoulder the technical director at the time. It was a curriculum saying we need to concentrate on ball work and we need to be more skillful. 

He said that in 1979. So what’s happened since 1979 till today? Nothing has changed.

What I’m saying is its all talk it’s all talk. It has never being put properly into action.

No Execution !!!

It upsets me to see the things that are happening. This is the problem. In Australia we have so much talented players. Yet they don’t nurture this talent properly. Australia needs to produce technical footballers.

So what needs to be done?
I’ll give you an example. When I played football my former coach Tommy Docherty (former Scottish international & Manchester United) said:  
“Peter Katholos is the best young player I ever had”. 

Ference Puskas said: “He’s the best technical player in this country.” 

Rale Rasic said: “The best technical player Australia has produced in the last 25 years.”

Not bad accolades hey? How do they utilise Peter Katholos’s expertise or gift as a coach to teach kids at national level how to be better? Or any other footballer that stood out in our era?

I’m helping kids to make national teams but no-one is aware, I’m helping kids to progress. I’m proud of that.

It’s frustrating because I have expertise that the national team setup doesn’t want to utilise. I’m available.

I want people to be creative. People are asking how we can make it better.
I believe Australia can win the World Cup. We have every nationality in the country and we have a multitude of talented players. I’ve been exposed to these kids. I comment: “How good are these kids?”

Why have the Socceroos dropped in numbers coming out of the AIS? Why have the youth results gone down?
You have to question that program too. Because they have not the appropriate development coaches there, they think they have the right people , but they are allocating their mates , jobs for the boys . 

So ask who is allocating such positions ?? Questions need to be asked . The national coach should have an input into the selection process in the future .

Raul Blanco and Les Scheinflug used to coach the youth.
Those coaches were a class act. Raul was one of my first coaches. He’s brilliant, a fantastic coach developing players . At that time they could both see talent, they could see what they were looking for and develop and nurture talent . That’s the school I came from.

How can you have Steve O'Connor and you can quote me on this. He played for Sydney City and can only knee and elbow. How can he be in charge of a program to produce and nurture our best young players?

No disrespect to Rocky. They’ve been encouraging hard boys instead of skillful boys. That’s the attitude. No-one will want admit to that. No-one won’t admit to the English “get stuck in their son” mentality.

I thought those attitude’s were being changed?
At the end of the day if you want technical players you have to nurture technical players. Australian Soccer needs technical players. We don’t need the kickers and strength and run only players. Where has England got with such players?

They also have realised and overhauling their system . This mentality is the dinosaur era ! We need to produce complete players with physical qualities but emphasis on skill and technique .

What has changed? The SAP? SAP means “skill acquisition program”, who is going to teach you the skill ? The textbook coach? I don’t think so! It’s limited . They are misleading the parents 

They’re selling a dream. It’s cashing in on a dream. 

Appoint the correct coaches pay them good money that is investing in your youth . Clubs collect $1,500 per kid and you pay the coach $3,000- $5,000 per year.

How are you going to attract the best coaches? Many ex -players that are good educators want to get involved but the money they are offered is rubbish! 

 Wake up Australia!

“It’s lipstick on a pig“ as a now famous parent called it!

Would you like to be involved in the National Team set up in some form?
I’d like to be involved in the national team set up. I’m going to offer my services to (Socceroos coach) Ange Postecglou to try and work with midfielders as a specific position. Because midfield is a specialised position and I have a lot to offer to make good players better.

No comments:

Post a Comment