Football Far North Coast sent two squads of young players to compete in the 2012 Boys Under 11 and Under 12 State Championships over the long weekend.
The tournament brought together the best male players in the respective age groups from the seven zones in Northern NSW and a "Skills Acquisition squad" comprising the best players from the Newcastle region. Participation at these events is an opportunity for players and coaches to gauge the level of skill that exists in the other football regions in the State.
In addition to the players, selected young match officials from the various zones also attended, being mentored by referee instructors as well as officiating in the games over three days. Local referees Sam Osborne and Sam Nilon were part of that contingent and proved their competency under the eye of senior referees.
Fundamentally, we should recognise that these events are part of the development pathway for players, coaches and match officials.
The perennial questions "Did you win?" or "How many goals did you score?" are the most common enquiries made by parents. As the stakes rise, or appear to rise, the result of a contest is often considered as the single most important factor in a game. It is quite legitimate to make a judgement of performance in sport based on who wins more games than another but it is far from the only criterion. Football in this country is considered as being many years behind the best nations in the world, in technical terms. Our governing body, Football Federation Australia, is trying to promote a national curriculum as a key framework to improving the skill set and technical delivery for future generations.
Basic competency of passing, positioning, creativity, communication and teamwork are all encompassed in a strategy to lift the standard of football to something comparable with the best in the world. Our kids are talented, healthy and intelligent. Equally as important, they are respectful of others and willing to learn.
The expectations upon kids to perform with success comes from many sources and we keep this in perspective. Development to an elite level is a process requiring many thousands of hours and is a small stepping stone with many more set out in front of kids of this age.