Last night at the XXXX Alehouse in the shadows of Suncorp Stadium the Roar Supporters Federation hosted their first forum of 2018 with returning Brisbane Roar Managing Director David Pourre the guest of honour.
On returning to the role
The first question of the night was around his somewhat surprising decision to return to the club after the departure of Mark Kingsman, with Pourre outlining the first contact was made from the clubs ownership. David outlined the reasoning behind his decision to depart in the first place –owners putting the club in jeopardy once again following a restoration project- and he sought assurances there would be no repeat before agreeing to return.
On the A-League’s side struggles.
Unsurprisingly, Pourre was frustrated at the sides current predicament but outlined that the club remains positive of a positive outcome, with a maximum of 36 points still to play for and a belief within the playing group that they could achieve something.
On Head Coach John Aloisi and his future
David once again reiterated his public statement from last month where he publically backed the coach to remain in the job. Pourre also outlined the clubs situation at the time when Aloisi walked into the role, saying that what he’s achieved in the two years prior to this has given him a lot of credit with the owners.
He also went on to say that John is as frustrated and as disappointed as anyone over the results this season and that he’s the first to take responsibility for the clubs struggles this season in his role as the head of the Football Department.
While acknowledging that the fans have every right to be equally frustrated and hold whatever views they like surrounding the manager, the club wouldn’t be making any changes for the foreseeable future. Pourre also said that the playing group was still 100% behind the manager, and that it would be obvious to all observers if that wasn’t the case.
On Craig Moore’s role at the club
Craig is the Football Director of the club, with his roles including engaging in contract negotiation and construction in addition to dealing with travel logistics for all the clubs teams and providing counsel to the coaching staffs of each team. Pourre also outlined that Aloisi has the final say on all contract and transfer decisions, which are all approved by Pourre and the clubs owners provided they fit within the agreed budgets.
On club culture
While reluctant to discussion what happened in his time away from the role, Pourre did outline that there had been a tremendous turnover at the club and not everyone fully understood exactly what the meaning of Brisbane Roar was. To use David’s words, ‘were some of the way there, but not all of the way’. Pourre also said that he didn’t agree with the perception of a boys club culture infiltrating the Roar this season, outlining the success of the clubs W-League, Youth League and academy as things which wouldn’t be the case if such a culture existed.
Pourre was reluctant to talk about the changeover of medical teams in the off-season given it happened prior to his return, however last weeks arrivial of national team back-room staffers Craig Duncan and Les Gellis to oversee the entire high performance unit was welcome. Pourre described the duo as highly respected in the game given their histories and that he was awaiting their report before deciding upon further steps. He also said those findings would remaining behind closed doors for both competitive advantage reasons and also player privacy given the level of detail about injuries and the like.
On players and contracts
Pourre outlined the sheer number of players out of contract -145- and that discussions around who to retain and who to target for recruitment were currently underway amongst the Football Department. He was reticent to mention any names however.
David also discussed the January transfer window plans, outlining that for someone to arrive there would need to be a departure given they have a full roster. There was space left for a January arrival, however those plans were scuppered when Luke DeVere’s injury was revealed to be less serious than planned. Initially the club were looking at Ivan Franjic as an injury replacement, however the earlier than expected return of Devere saw the versatile right sided player take the allocated space for January.
The clubs discipline was also mentioned with Pourre calling it “uncharacteristic” to see so many issues this season. He also however stressed they would stand by the players as opposed to ‘throwing them under the bus’.
On the success of the W-League side this season
“They’re going well”. That was the rather modest assessment of Mel Andreatta’s sides return to the summit of the W-League table this season, before going on to say the appointment of Andreatta as coach of the women’s team was one of the best decisions the club has made due to her management of the team and the ideals she brings to the table.
The question of where the team should play came up once again, with Pourre admitting the crowds at Suncorp Stadium and the new active supporter group –The Roar Corps- added a great atmosphere to the games, however the club has a responsibility to make the team accessible to the entire women’s football community and it may be prudent to play more games at regional venues.
While not wanting to jinx anything, Pourre admitted there was a plan in place for any potential home finals –or Grand Final- and that Suncorp Stadium is not an option due to scheduling issues. Amongst the venues in the mix to host the games are Ballymore, QSAC and Perry Park.
On the Logan training precinct
The clubs much awaited home is still on track to be opened next month with works on the players facilities currently underway, while the playing surface was ready to go. Amongst those facilities will be dedicated lockers, a kit room, medical rooms, player lounges, a kitchen and dedicated rooms for meetings.
While the move is still on track as planned, Pourre outlined it would be imperative for the players to simply just ‘turn up and train’ on the first day, with the transition for the staff set to take place over the next month.
Pourre also shared an exchange between himself and John Aloisi back in 2015 about things the coach wanted for the club. “A home” was Aloisi’ response, with Pourre happy to hear that as he held a similar belief.
David also talked about the Logan City Council’s commitment to the game with the regional council investing $9million into the facility which will be shared by the Roar and Football Brisbane, with Brisbane Roar having a 10 year lease on the main field of the facility giving them sole access.
The question of the W-League side joining the men’s team at the base was suggested, with Pourre outlining the sides relationship with the current home venue in Fig Tree Pocket. While not excluding the possibility, he did mention the possibility of W-League and NYL games being held at the venue.
On the owners
Pourre outlined that to his knowledge the club was not for sale and there had been no legitimate discussions for a sale despite media reports suggesting otherwise in recent months. David also outlined just how much money the Bakrie Group have invested since purchasing a controlling interest back in 2011, with upwards of $19million stumped up by the clubs Indonesian owners to keep the club afloat. Pourre also outlined a loss of just under $4million for the 2017 financial year.
On the standard of refereeing
Pourre gave a real glimpse of the clubs frustrations over the standard of refereeing this year, both in terms of the on field referees and the much discussed VAR.
“My level of satisfaction is significantly diminished by refereeing of games, How many goals have been denied by linesman errors? I can count three. That’s pretty big. Im very disappointed”
Pourre was not interested in hearing any excuses on the matter, saying they needed both coaching and education before going on to outline that they don’t understand the ‘fiscal and emotional’ impact their decisions make on clubs and supporters alike.
When asked if the controversial VAR system would return next year, Pourre succinctly quipped “I hope not”, a response which got the largest round of applause of the night from those in attendance.
Just to wrap this up, a few dot points on other things to come out of the forum
– The club is spending upwards of 4million on the A-League squad this season, with only one or two clubs spending significantly more.
– Pourre outlined a plan to take pre-season games to the regions, similarly to the 2015-16 season when games were held on the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Cleveland Showgrounds and at QSAC.
– The annual members photo will happen once again, with a date set aside for one of the two games in February.
– Pourre wanted to examine all options before confirming where the clubs ACL games would be played, with a range of factors including conflicts with the Commonwealth Games mentioned should they reach the Group Stage.
– Umbro will be returning as the clubs kit manufacturer for the next three seasons, with the original deal set to expire at the end of this season.
– On the issue of playing kits, Pourre also outlined that the club will go back to a more traditional orange and black look for next season, while the second and third kits are TBD. There will however be one ‘light’ option and one ‘dark’ option to ensure no clashes with rival clubs.
– Pourre was “very surprised” when made aware of the ticketing strategy for the FFA Cup game, outlining his belief that the game should be to engage the community and not a profit making exercise. He also made it clear the club takes the competition seriously despite exiting in the Round of 32 for three straight years, despite being a pre-season competition in his eyes.
– The club is limited in what they can do in terms of merchandise with FFA controlling the clubs brand and choosing which products to sell and who produces them.
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.
- High Performance
- Player welfare/Education
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.
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.
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.
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.