I had the pleasure of meeting with Northern NSW Football CEO David Eland today to discuss some of the issues I brought up in my editorial last week and he made a fair few good points on behalf of the federation. I'm not going to run through a big list at this stage and make corrections as I simply have too much work to do with the NPL preview. However I will stand up and say, the federation do a lot more work than what people tend to believe.
Mr. Eland quoted some of the problems are from the clubs not raising their hands and asking for help. Northern were a driving force behind the recent upgrades at Cooks Hill's Newcastle Athletics Field and he made it clear that he's open for discussions with clubs and so is his staff.
It's all good to complain on social media and complain on forums but if complaints are going to be meet with answers, they simply have to be formally to the federation themselves. I've been told there is a joint NPL/New-FM review meeting scheduled to discuss promotion requirements and the ins and outs of NPL football. The number of New-FM club presidents who've said they'll attend that meeting, 0. None.
Mr. Eland admitted that Northern aren't perfect by any means but you tell me a company that is. He went over how difficult it has been this season to re-schedule games. Using the NPL and NPL Youth as an example, a wash-out weekend at say South Cardiff for example would require four nights of football during the week with volunteers forced to give up their week and what not. It's not a system that works right now.
I still believe there are pressing issues in the Premier Competitions but Northern have made it clear that reviews are being done and contact with clubs is being upheld. The point to make here is if you have a valid complaint, talk to your secretary, talk to your president and phone/email Northern directly.
The community-based work Northern do is unappreciated and a big point to make is that the registration fees here are a lot less expensive than those in Sydney.
That being said I feel like there were a few points I didn't agree with and of course everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Northern have made it clear that the NPL is the top-tier competition and the majority of their resources are to be put into the NPL. That's understandable and that's why I thrive to showcase the New-FM 1st Division on this site as much as I do.
What I didn't agree with was the pathway of player development. Mr. Eland kept talking about the Emerging Jets/Jets Youth as the stepping stone to the A-League, it's not. That might be how the rulebook reads but why can't a player at say Broadmeadow or Edgeworth get picked up for a trial at the Jets. That's something the Jets need to look at. It's not a Northern issue, it's a Jets issue.
And being told the Emerging Jets have the best coaches going is just not accurate. They might have the certificates or whatever and I understand that Northern have a big hand in the Emerging Jets, but telling me Gary Van Egmond is a quality Technical Director is like telling me David Moyes was as good as Sir Alex Ferguson.
One thing I didn't mention in the meeting as it slipped my mind as I wrote down some dot points was that a SAP (that's Skills Acquisition Program for those who don't know) coach told me directly that he had 10 year olds who left the Emerging Jets and didn't want to go back. Says a lot about the Emerging Jets doesn't it.
I've heard of a few instances where the Emerging Jets system has failed. A prominent Jets Youth coach supposedly blasting a bunch of 16 & 17 year olds on the weekend was one that has been spread around by not just one source, but multiple. How about a certain higher-up sitting a bunch of 17 year olds in the middle of Ulinga Oval and giving them a mouthful for all to see.
The feeling at Northern is that you must play NPL to then be recruited for a higher level. The vibe they gave is that club's need an NPL license to be given any extra attention. I didn't agree with everything that was said today but I've had my say and I'll continue to do what I do here on Newysports.
Mr. Eland made some great points about the work Northern do but if anyone's got more to say about it, he also said he's happy to speak to the clubs directly. Speak up if you have a problem. I know it's tough because some clubs may fear a repercussion from the federation but from what I saw today, they seem very approachable and keen to see football in Northern NSW excel.
Onto this site though. After the vibe I got today, it's safe to say this site is the home of lower-tier football in Northern NSW. 63% of people visit this site to see New-FM 1st Division news and results. I'm delighted with that and I've got plans to make the coverage even better next season.
New-FM football is something I believe in and yes some clubs need to get off their proverbial backside, pull their finger out of said backside and start working hard at building foundations for the future.
The talk about senior clubs and junior clubs not getting on needs to be sorted out. Teams like Mayfield United, Beresfield United, New Lambton, there's tonnes more. These teams can get to New-FM if they do a little bit of work. Not just engage with the juniors but get the field up to a New-FM standard. It's something that Northern have told me are happy to see. If a club asks for help, Northern have said they're happy to provide it.
Northern have a problem I have here. You can't please everyone. I've had my say. I've earned respect for the federation today and I can see that they're trying to improve year in, year out. If you want to blast their $12 million dollar footballing facility, why don't you build your own and make it better? Just a hyperbole.
With all that being said, I still believe Northern aren't doing everything they could right but as mentioned, nobodies perfect. The standard is rising though and it seems from the outside looking in that the federation are trying hard to keep football on the up.
I'm going to hit some clubs that I won't name (they might know who they are) with some brutal truth. The New-FM competition will be made infinitely better if every single team was aiming for the NPL. There are some clubs who are happy with the status quo and really need to step up their game. I'm sure over the next few seasons, every New-FM club will realize this and begin to put the foundation in place for a real crack at promotion.
Another thing to clear up is promotion to the New-FM. Beresfield United will not be promoted whilst they play at Pasadena Oval. The field is too small, the facility is not up to it. That's been made clear. In fact, it was made clear that no Zone teams will be moving up to New-FM at the end of the season.
Clubs like Toronto, Cessnock and Belmont-Swansea will feel hard done by after featuring in the top-flight at some stage but they've got to live by the new standards put in place by the FFA (not Northern) and try and build some new foundations.
Cessnock is a magnificent sporting area. They've got a quality rugby league team and a spectacular new league field. The Hornets should be doing better than finishing second last. They'll know it as well. Recruitment is key now that the New-FM competition is improving rapidly.
Singleton's another one that should really aim for the NPL. Having a team that represent the Upper Hunter would provide the competition with a bit more of a challenge. A road trip to Howe Park isn't an easy one. I know it's hard and there's a lot more to it than on-field performance but I'd love to see every New-FM team fight for the top.
Anyway, Newysports will continue the work that this site has become known for. Consistency, punctuality and professionalism. I'll continue to be at New-FM games, not just first grade but 17's right through to the top grade. I'll continue to write about Zone League Premier, 1, 2, 3, you name it! It's going to continue to be a quality site promoting quality local football.
Yes this site's not perfect and it's missing a few comps (NPL Youth, WPL, etc) but as a one-man operation, I'd like to think it's been a success and it will only grow next year as I look at expanding the site.
I think today proved that whilst everyone's entitled to their own opinion, there are indeed two sides to every story. Thank you to David Eland and Northern for opening their doors and providing me with a decent look-in at their operations and just how hard they work at Speers Point. It's been an eye opener for sure.
And for the Newysports readers, hopefully I've helped provide you with a bit of knowledge today, a bit of understanding. This site averages 600 visits a day and I believe a community-driven website like this helps grow the game. A big thank you to the constant support. From Singleton to Blacksmiths, Rathmines to Tomaree, Cessnock to Maitland, thanks for the support.
P.S, for those who don't know yet, I'm considering sponsorship options for next season. I'd love to see the Newysports logo on the front of some jerseys and will be trying my best to make it happen. As well as this, more video content will be a must for the site in 2016.
Personally I'll be looking at perhaps an assistant coach option. It'd be something I'd love to do. Anyway, that's another story for another day. If you've got any thoughts or suggestions or anything really, feel free to send me an email or comment below.
Thanking you as always,