Australia has a near-perfect football pathway structure – but needs to axe every member federation if the sport is to reach its potential, says ex-FFA technical director Rob Sherman.
“Having the actual football discussion was always further down the priority list,” said Welsh-born Sherman, now back in his adopted homeland of New Zealand, and looking to return to coaching.
“That became quite frustrating.
“You couldn’t talk about the whole football infrastructure and get that nailed, and then say, 'Right, we’ll go off and do that, you go and find the money'.
“It became very much the other way around.”
He added: “Having those detailed conversations never materialised, or it would be elements of it.
“So it'd be about the women's and girls game and you go, ‘Well, that's vital and that's a massive area of growth – but actually, when you design the whole game, that's a facet of that.
“It's not an independent facet. It's just a facet of the whole game.
“Transfer systems? A facet of it all. Composition structure is a facet of it all.
“But the bottom line is, let's get the whole picture right – and then the component parts and then hopefully the business side comes to life.”
Sherman is convinced the best thing that could happen to Australian football now, if he could only change one thing, would be to scrap all the federations.
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“We need a centralised model with regional offices and I'm sure you can get the right governance structure in terms of representation and voting," he said.
“But to have nine bodies really is hyper-inefficient in my opinion. And I think that would be the biggest thing we could do would be to change the governance structure.”
He sees a new framework with development offices in each region, working with clubs, running a talent program and offering coach education and additional coaching training to replace the federations.
“The development office could be some of the pro clubs so they could be working with their key partners and help build their own networks,” he said.
“But if you had a nationwide structure like that, and obviously the supporting competition structure, then the game would flourish."
Sherman admits though that it would be like turkeys voting for Christmas for the the federations to vote for their own demise at FFA Congress level.
“Therefore, if that doesn't happen, it probably tells you about the turkeys,” he adds.
“There's a fantastic amount of work done by the volunteers, loads of good things happening in the game.
“But there's barriers that shouldn't be there that are preventing that coming to its full fruition. And, and if those barriers could be done away with, I think the game would really operate at a different level.”