Recap of RSF Academy Forum

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On Friday night the Roar Supporters Federation hosted another fans forum, this time with the focus on youth development and Brisbane’s new academy which is set to launch in January 2018. Academy director Drew Sherman was the guest speaker on the night at the QUT Kelvin Grove campus as he outlined the work that’s been done so far, and the planning behind scenes to get the academy up and running.

You can watch our live steam of the night on our Facebook page. Alternatively, here’s some notes from the night.

Sherman opened the forum by talking about how the club wanted to be the most successful as possible and the need to have the best players available in order to do that by either spending large up front transfer fees to acquire them, or by investing in the development of youngsters. After going through the pros and cons of each strategy, Sherman outlined the clubs view that developing players is the best approach and one of the reasons for the launch of the academy.

Discussion then turned to the structure of the academy, with the program starting when they enter the program full-time at the age 12 and taking them through to the end of their schooling at age 17. Sherman also outlined that there is a linear approach to the academy with the possibility for players to move up and down over the years, with the support of Football Queensland and partner clubs in the NPL vital to this.

In the age groups below the start of the academy, the approach is to work with the NPL clubs across the state and offer support such as the SAP program to help develop their own programs in order to reach as many players as possible.

Sherman then went on to outline eight key areas upon which the academy is judged under the academy’s performance plan.

  • Facilities
  • Operations
  • Recruitment
  • Medical
  • Coaching
  • High Performance
  • Player welfare/Education
  • Finance

    While the youth team will transition to the new training base down in Logan upon its completion, the academy’s operations will remain at QUT Kelvin Grove campus for the next five years, with travel considerations for players from all parts of the greater Brisbane area a factor in the decision.

    As part of the timeline to launch the academy, each of the above criteria will be audited by the FFA to ensure they meet the required levels prior to the launch date.

    Talent Identification
    In terms of talent identification, Sherman outlined they use both internal and external scouting mechanisms, with the internal scouting taking place at partner clubs throughout the NPL system. Externally to that there are currently six scouts who cover football of all levels and competitions in South-East Queensland, covering on average 120 games per month to ensure players don’t get missed.

    Players who are recommended are then brought into a trial day to be compared with others from the same age group in order to identify the best players. It’s a practice that is currently being used to help start the academy, however Sherman indicated it’s one which would be limited to players entering at the u-12 level moving forward once the academy is up and running.

    Teams in the academy
    When the academy gets up and running next year, Brisbane’s will have teams from u-12’s right through to the u-19’s with each group set to feature roughly 18 players, although the number may vary depending on talent in a particular year.

    Each team will play up one age group in order to suitably challenge the players in their development and to provide flexibility for players to move up or down depending on the need. The clubs u-16’s side will be competing in the u-18’s competition, with the u-17’s competing in the u-20 competition and the senior youth side comprised of u-19’s players.

    With player welfare in mind, Sherman outlined that players accepted in the program to remain in the system through the end of their schooling. There isn’t going to be much chopping and changing each year, with players outside the system having to be better than those in the academy if they are to be brought in.

    Coaches
    Currently there are four full-time coaches as part of the academy, with Drew Sherman and current Young Roar Manager James Robinson headlining the group. Former Brisbane Roar youth graduate and first team player Chris Grossman is also part of the group, as is goalkeeping coach Brodie Sams.

    In addition to the current staff they are currently looking for coaches at each level of the academy with three different sets of criteria being emphasised. Ideally the aim is to have an experienced youth coach leading each age group, assisted by a young up and coming coach who has potential moving forward and further assisted by an experienced player looking to make their way into coaching after retirement.

    Timeline of the academy
    Below is a rough timeline of how the academy has been built up to this date, and what will take place between now and when the program officially launches next year.

    February- Drew Sherman arrives as Academy Director
    March- Met NPL clubs to understand climate of football in South-East Qld, develop strategy.
    April– Developed talent id network.
    May– Started training ground discussions and talent id process.
    June– Confirmed medical and sports science infrastructure + further age group trials.
    July- More aged group trials + academy partnership discussions. Started staff recruitment.
    August- Developing state-wide talent id network
    October– Full-time staff begin and successful players notified of placements. Audited by FFA.
    Oct-Dec– Develop programs for partner clubs
    Jan 22, 2018- Academy program officially launched.

    Partner clubs
    When discussing Partner clubs, Sherman outlined that the club must have at least one of the following to be considered for a partnership.

    – Commitment to youth development
    – A plan for youth development
    – A history of youth development

    Clubs without those things aren’t compatible with the program according to Sherman, while for those that are plans are being worked on to ensure the best situation moving forward.

    The other requirement for partner clubs is that the environment has to be both accessible for people and inclusive, with the program to cover both male and female players.

    A question from the floor asked how the NPL clubs view Brisbane’s academy with Sherman outlining that the response has been overwhelmingly positive, with a number of clubs signing up to be partners of the academy.

    Sherman went on to say that of the 28 clubs set to make up the expanded NPL set-up in 2018, only three had a problem with the program. Amongst others, NPL Queensland clubs Olympic FC and Gold Coast City were mentioned as clubs who would be part of the partner club set-up.


Attributes of a Brisbane Roar player
The final question of the night was surrounding what makes up a Brisbane Roar player and what attributes were the club looking for when bringing players in, with Sherman outlining that commitment, character and competency were the three most important areas. In terms of on field however there were three main areas that were important; personality traits, skill and speed.

Personality Traits– Work-ethic, body language, ability to take on instructions, reaction when ball is lost, ect.
Skill– first touch, passing, 1v1 defending, ect.
Speed– physical speed + speed of thought.

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