The Club has been providing junior and youth football development in a structured environment since 2006 when the Club introduced the Pro-Coaching programme for elite players.
“Football for all” has been our motto since then, giving the opportunity to all children to enjoy football from elite to a more social environment. The club has also adopted an unwritten policy of “one football for each child”. This lets all players practice their individual skills more often particularly in the less elite teams where technical development is delivered by voluntary coaches.
All coaches (voluntary or professional) at the Club are fully equipped with gear in order to run effective training sessions.
In the past few year the Club has increased its numbers across the Junior section (boys and girls) and is now one of Auckland’s larger Clubs.
The Club’s overarching philosophy for junior football is to develop players with proficient technical ability, tactical understanding and a will to win. This is developed through a life cycle from fun (first kicks) to competitive (Metro and Combined).
The Club is very cognisant that is not all just about elite football development. The Club has a large base of local children that play football in winter only and are happy to be involved in teams with their school friends.
We also like to trial these players in order to give everyone the opportunity to play in a more “competitive” environment if they wish. Trialling is not compulsory, though.
The Club is flexible around selections and endeavours to keep non elite teams together especially when they are playing together with friends or players from previous seasons. These players don’t need to trial and are usually happy to be placed in any division as long as they can play together week in week out.
For the teams where fun and comradery is the most important part of their journey we endeavour to support them with coaching if it’s required and give them the opportunity to play only without the need to practice during the week.
The Club sees these teams as a very important part of the Club and respects that their motivations for playing are just as important as the motivations of elite players.
Playing time is necessary to develop players’ ability and confidence. The game is the real life scenario where the learning process takes place. This is also a very important opportunity for coaches to check where individuals are at with their football development. The game is used by the coach to establish what interventions and methodology can be applied to correct or improve technical ability, tactical understanding and confidence for each player.
First kicks 5 to 8 years old
These age groups are at the beginning of the football journey so it is important to provide players with an enjoyable and pressure free environment. Subs rotate every 3 minutes. Rotation is also recommended for “starting line-up” each week so all players have the opportunity to start the game during the Saturday morning development league.
Grade 9 to Grade 12
9th Grade to 12th Grade is where we start to structure training and games in a more specific and detailed way. Technical development (skills development), will to win and tactical understanding (moments of the game) are taught and advanced by our Club coaches (professional coaches and volunteer coaches). Game time is very important in order to monitor players’ development and game understanding.
A minimum of a half of game time per player is recommended (*some exceptions apply) and it is entirely up to the coach in how to do so. Players rotated every 6-8 minutes in order to guarantee balance, team structure and the required game time to all players. Coaches rotate players in as many positions as possible particularly in the age groups 9 and 10. Normally 3 players are rotated in and 3 players out each time, however this is only a guideline as long as each player is on the park playing as often as possible.
Between the ages of 11 and 12 the same playing time philosophy applies and the rotation is still in place. More emphasis is placed on detailing each position to each player, giving players an objective (task) to achieve during the game. All players play a similar amount of time each game.
* providing that all players have attended training, shown great attitude and respect towards team mates, coaches and parents. If a child misses training or has been sick, priority for the starting lineup may be given to players that have attended all trainings. Attending training doesn’t guarantee players to start games or play an equal amount of time if their attitude or behaviour has been of insufficient standard during the time leading to kick off (training or pre match). Positive attitude and a good standard of behaviour is the most important requisite the Club is seeking from its members. The Club and the coaches will not penalise children if their parents’ behaviour is not in line with Club standards and NZF side-line behavioural guidelines. The parents’ behaviour will be addressed separately.
The Club’s aim is to provide each player with the best opportunities as possible to play at the highest level by the age of 18, with the minimum being NFRL/ASB Premiership. Learning as much as possible during key years, particularly from 9-12, with a focus on the players’ confidence and the “4 corners development” (physical, social, technical and psychological) is paramount.
The Club’s philosophy is to play all children in as many positions as possible in order to develop their game understanding and challenge their abilities. The Club believes that by following the NZ Junior and Youth football development framework we will achieve positive outcomes.
The only fixed position is the Goal Keeper, however, in the younger age groups (9-10) there may be occasions where the Goal Keeper will be playing outfield as well. Coaches will remind all players that “we are all strikers when the team has the ball and we are all defenders when the team doesn’t have the ball”. This helps players to understand why they are playing in one spot or another.
From the age of 11 and 12 players are rotated in different positions with a slightly different emphasis. The rotations are to take into account their physical development and maturity in addition to their technical ability. This is due to players starting to go through growth spurts which can temporarily affect their performance.
There is also an emotional aspect to consider as players mature mentally at this age and this can affect their confidence. The coaches will take a more holistic approach in order to identify the areas of development required by each individual player.
The coaches will make sure that all players understand the importance of learning to play in different positions in order to thoroughly develop skills, tactical understanding and the will to win. All these “ingredients” will lead to players increasing their confidence.
As teams start to play 11 a-side on a full size pitch from the age of 13 for boys and 14 for girls, the Club’s game day philosophy changes slightly. The focus becomes playing the best team on the day and game time may vary depending on circumstances (attitude, training attendance, balance and tactical needs). At this age players start to specialise around specific positions. More emphasis is placed on tactical understanding and the learning takes place through a more tasks based process where players are asked to perform certain tasks during matches and trainings.
The coaches run teams based on the team’s needs first and foremost however each player will still play in each game unless there are legitimate reasons for the player not to start. These reasons are likely to be the player returning from injury, training attendance or poor behaviours. There may be occasions where a player is underutilized for a game. When this happens the coach will provide feedback to the player and make sure the player plays at least half of the following game.
All coaches in the Metro, Combined and Conference divisions have an additional responsibility to guarantee positive results to maintain the Club’s positions in these prestigious leagues as there is promotion and relegation. More expectations are placed on players and parents, not just at training or games but also at school and home where nutrition and recovery becomes very important.
The Club places a lot of emphasis on players’ development particularly in the age bracket 9-12. We call this 4 year band “foundations years” where it is important to teach as much as possible (technical ability, game understanding, will to win, love for the game) in order to prepare players for the 11 aside game where results will start to count a little more.
Grade 9 and Grade 10
In 9th and 10th grade the focus is purely developmental particularly because there is not a ladder and results are not recorded making the environment safe and pressure free. Here we develop players’ skills, balance, coordination and speed. Coaches start talking about the “will to win” focusing more on winning the ball back and desire to be the best (attitude at training, desire to try new things, desire to play 100% all the time, support of team mates).
Positive attitude and desire to learn is what the Club expects from all players particularly from the ones involved with professional coaching. To facilitate this process all appointed coaches work in a positive and safe environment where players can enjoy their practice and learn something new each session.
Grade 11 and Grade 12
In 11th and 12th grade we follow the same principles and working with players that have learned and developed in the previous seasons we start to look at the results in a different way. We start asking players to deliver performances based on what has been coached during the week. Usually teams start working through the 4 moments of the game as part of their skills development and by the time the championship starts (after grading rounds) all teams are well prepared. Instilling the “will to win”, whether it is “being first to recover a ball or play the final pass to score or save a goal”, is key in guaranteeing positive outcomes.
Grade 13 and up
From 13th grade up, particularly in Metro, Combined and Conference divisions, results become more important due to relegation zone at the end of each year. This results in teams being run in a more structured way with a goal to present the best team for each game. The best team means all players having the right mentality, fitness and will to strive for the success of the team. Coaches want all 14/15 players to be on the same “band width” each weekend so they can give everyone a fair amount of football and challenge in different positions. This way we will prepare players tactically and mentally while still placing emphasis on their skill acquisition.
Trials and Player Selections
The Club runs trials each year in February in order to group players with similar abilities in teams for the upcoming season. We believe in giving existing and new members as much opportunity as possible to display their talents. We are very cognisant of the fact that young players can make significant progress in a short period of time between seasons so last season’s ranking is not necessarily a guide for the coming season.
We use our cadre of professional coaches to evaluate trial performance to give the process real integrity.
The coaches look at technical ability, understanding of the game, physical development (speed, balance, coordination, agility) and attitude (does the player give up easily?; is the player competitive?; is the player giving his best?; is the player respectful? )
The Club aims to provide each player with the best playing environment and coaching support possible. In more social groups we will try to place friends together providing that skill gap is not too wide, after that we match players by schools they go to.
From 13th grade up we run term 4 and term 1 player development programmes where the Club’s current players plus players from other Clubs are invited to practice together. Generally both Metro and Conference teams will practice alongside each other in summer and final teams are announced early March before the season starts.
This eliminates the need for trials and we can start pre-season with our top teams earlier.
Player of the Day Awards
The Club acknowledges it’s important to recognise a player each week for their contribution by way of a Player of the Day award.
In Grades 5 to 8 the award is shared around to ensure all players get the opportunity to be recognised.
From Grade 9 and up more emphasis is placed on the “earning” of the award. This may mean that some players receive the award on more occasions than others. If the award is merited then this is entirely acceptable.
The Club provides all Coaches in Grades 5 to 12 a trophy for the season that is to be awarded each week. For Grades above 12th the award becomes verbal recognition only.