I have chosen to write a blog post for this week on one of my great enjoyments, Football. I’m not here to blabber about football, rather tackle a slither of a topic that fascinates me and use it to ask “Why does New Zealand under achieve at football”?
For people that may have no idea on NZ football or football in general, I consider that New Zealand could make a bigger impact at the most widely played game in the world. You see our many high achievements at other sporting events, Olympic events, the likes of rugby stand out because of our national sport and how good our country plays. I ask, “So why can’t we transition some of this knowledge into football and how we perform”?
Many reasons come to mind considering why we potentially cannot compete at this game:
Size of the Country, Money, Other Countries are better or more countries play the game (compared to rugby), Knowledge (Coaches and Staff to support development), Player Levels & Commitment.
I would consider these to be the main areas we may struggle at. Our country has a small population which we all know, yet our rugby team still performs year after year. Possibly the biggest test is money, other countries around the world have more people playing, creating more competition and more football leagues. These players in some leagues get paid a small amount to play and therefore have some extra incentive.
Money is a huge part of football around the world, big clubs spend tens of millions on any one player and some players earning hundreds of thousands a week. Here in New Zealand I wouldn’t consider this type of money, but some of the leagues teams still pay players a small amount. So is this an issue? The reason may be it isn’t enough, players here also have to work full time jobs to make a living and therefore football becomes a second priority. Other countries football may be the players career. One key idea to think about.
Other countries have more depth of players to choose from because of the population however again this doesn’t effect our national rugby team. So why football? Football is largely other countries national game and therefore they have spent the money, players developed over longer periods of time which can lead to greater knowledge post career. Another key idea.
Player levels and leagues in New Zealand aren’t seen as very high, our national league is largely the highest possible course for players within New Zealand. With only one team majority ever competing with another countries which is the Wellington Phoenix and then again they can struggle a lot. This leads to attracting players and keeping them here, some of the best go and play overseas for money or better competition and careers. This is what I see as the biggest cause, we cannot keep our better players here, which isn’t a bad thing always but these will be the players to develop others around them. We can’t compete with the bigger paying clubs in other countries and simply our best league doesn’t offer them enough.
The current All Whites coach has identified what he sees as a big issue, he obviously has more knowledge and source into this. His idea turns to the laid back environment of our top footballers as well as game time. His comments below make a lot of sense and I can agree, even with my local experience as an amateur club player.
(Anthony Hudson – All Whites Coach)
“These are all young players that haven’t made it yet, but all have the ambition to make it. They are supposedly our best young players in New Zealand, yet they are so far removed from reality of how hard you have to work and what you have to put in, what you have to sacrifice.
“There is no urgency and they’ve got people around them that tell them how good they are all the time. No-one keeps them accountable … it horrifies me.
“It’s a soft, laid-back environment. It’s an epidemic here.”
A comment I think of when looking at this information is, some players may not consider football being able to take them to a career and pay their bills with, their education around them also has to have commitment and therefore they become less committed to what they see as a sport or hobby.
Lastly, again Hudson identified the games which our national team play, that is the whole point. There aren’t ever many games apart from when they come into tournament qualifiers.
“We need to play, at a minimum, two games a window and there are five windows.
“We can’t get away from it. You can’t build teams from a distance and throw a magic wand at it.
“We need time with the players and we need games, there is no other solution. We are trying to get to a World Cup.” (Anthony Hudson)
Possibly the biggest issue after reading this and why NZ may under perform at football. The All Blacks have a large amount of fixtures every year with regular team camps and training’s. The All Whites rarely get together and play other national teams which the last two comments above identify. (How can a team form and develop if they never play together) This isn’t the players or teams issue, the football association need to assess this. I believe they have started with a campaign ‘Beyond Football’ launched.
The link below explains what they plan to do.
Source of information: