Following Tuesday night’s harrowing defeat at the feet of Christian Eriksen and Denmark, I spoke to Roscommon’s FAI Development Officer, Adrian Carberry, in a bid to discover how we could produce players capable of competing at the highest level.
Adrian highlighted three key areas of grassroots development which he believes require more focus.
More Ball Work
“We need to bring it back to the grassroots and allow players to express themselves.
“I see coaches who have players running around everywhere and lining up to have (unopposed) shots on goal. We need to get players on the ball more and dribbling with left and right feet, doing Cruyff turns and trying new things. This is something that can be done as part of the warm-up. It then comes down to repetition, repetition.
“Players should be opposed and encouraged to dribble or play their way out of trouble. I’m currently using Futsal where players are attacking one minute and defending the next. Instead of just kicking the ball away when defending, they are rewarded for winning the ball and using it. This teaches them the vital transition side of the game.”
“Players are with clubs twice a week in this country and that’s not enough. In countries like Holland and Germany there are schools and academies where the players are training before and after school. Our Emerging Talent Programme has them in once a week for 45 minutes. That’s just scratching the surface!
“Players in this region might go from November to January without kicking a ball. We have indoor halls and facilities all over this country. Let’s get them in there playing indoor football and Futsal during the winter and get them confident on the ball.”
“This is a big one. When Germany struggled after 2002 they used it as an opportunity to have a complete review of how they were doing things. They reevaluated coaching and retrained coaches and transformed their set-up.
“Coach education is vital. Parents are paying money to clubs to develop young players and some coaches are picking the same players every week. We need to forget about winning leagues and cups at the younger age groups. We also need to get away from the habit of just playing the bigger or more developed players. Players need to be playing in and experiencing all positions too.
“Coaches need to be educated and both clubs and leagues need to adopt the Player Development Plan a little quicker.
“This is a chance now for us to go back and look at what we’re doing and how we can improve it.”