Being away with the Wellington Phoenix in India was great. Aside from the cultural experience, the opportunity to soak up our football climate for an uninterrupted couple of weeks and discuss strategy for The Phoenix going forward was invaluable.
The team equipped itself well, and to see the apprentices playing more often than not, is a real testimony to how much confidence coach Ricki Herbert and his colleagues Jonathon Gould and Chris Greenacre have in that investment. It was just magic to see how those young lads mixed in with our senior pros and everything gelled well on and off the field. The fact that young Louis Fenton was picked by Ricki as his player of the tournament is testimony to that fact.
From this we are focussed on a number of things now to build on our investment youth players and to really push for The Phoenix to win and then to just keep on winning, the A-League. Some of these are;
- Extending that development opportunity down to 14-16 year olds and even younger. The facts of life are that not enough young NZ football players are being brought up to the standard we need.
- Secondly, our six month off-season is way too long, teams in the English Premier League get 2 months – and even then they tour to keep their level up. The India tour has confirmed to me that we need more off-season competition for our professional team, and we can’t get enough of the right level of competition in New Zealand. So we will explore more tours and cooperating with clubs in South Africa, Asia and South America to establish mini-competitions in our off-season.
- Developments on the football scene in India are really exciting and even include the possibility of an IPL (International Profession League) as they have successfully launched with cricket. We want to stay close to India Football’s Great Leap Forward and this tour has really established a great rapport. The crowds loved our boys and we were implored to return. We will.
All in all it’s been a great initiative and we have all benefited from the experience – players, management and owners.
Finally we are pleased to announce an agreement in principle with our Indian Football associates to invite two of their up and coming young players to attend the FSE in Wellington. Some of these boys are from very poor backgrounds and as part of a club policy of social responsibility, it is our pleasure to bring two such lads here for footballing and education experience.
Thanks for reading the blogs on the Phoenix’s Indian tour over the last few weeks and spreading the word on your Facebook and twitter accounts. The positive feedback is always appreciated by the team and it’s great to see the support out there.