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In relation to the coaching structure the Germans have, it is definitely something that the Republic of Ireland need to copy and implement. However, there are certain issues that will impact on us following the German model, albeit on a much smaller scale.
(1) This country has a massive following for four sports: (both codes of the GAA, rugby and soccer) and soccer is competing with two much better organised associations in the GAA and IRFU. It could even be argued that the brilliantly-run amateur boxing scene is making inroads on soccer in the traditional soccer working class areas of Dublin and Cork.
(2) The domestic league is in a constant crisis: Much of this problem can be laid at the incompetent FAI, but the so-called Irish soccer public needs to take a lot of the blame also. The Setanta Cup was in my opinion the forerunner for a possible all-Irish league. Attendances were poor at games and it probably has ended any hope of there being an All-Ireland league. Many of the Irish soccer fans only give a damn about what is happening at Anfield, Old Trafford or the Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium. They don’t care about what is happening at Turner’s Cross or at Tallaght Stadium, with the result that clubs have no money to invest in proper coaching for6-year-olds upwards. Ideally, the FAI would implement a national schoolboy league, where the best young lads in Cork play for Cork City and each club would have a UEFA Pro Licence Coach working with the kids in each age group, but given the lack of money in the game in this country, this is about as realistic as Burnley being crowned Premier League Champions come next May. Which leads me to the next and arguably the biggest problem...
(3) The lack of political will: How many TDs would support a huge amount of money being pumped into the game in this country (relatively speaking) that would compare to the continent?
While, most people in this country like soccer, there are huge swathes of the country where they are more concerned about Mayo or Kilkenny.
The local TD is concerned about re-election and being too close up to the GAA folk. There is little to gain for him from being a friend to the local soccer club or LOI club.
None of these issues are a problem in a far bigger and wealthier country like Germany, where soccer is the number one sport by a mile and they have huge clubs like Bayern and Dortmund. They also have a population that WANTED change.
I’ve been trying to gather people together with a view to beginning the long and difficult road in this country to at least puting everything in place to reach its potential. I contacted several supporters’ groups with a view to uniting us all in to a co-ordinated group that challenges the FAI on its decisions or lack of, trying to be part of working to improve Irish football. I got a positive response from foot.ie of which I’m already a member. Ybig.ie didn’t even respond to me.
That sums it up for me. We can talk all we like about the FAI, but if the football public and every Irish soccer fan and all the other so- called football lovers in this country, lack the desire to change things, then nothing will be done and we will be hanging around hoping that we produce that one world class (maybe we’ll get lucky and produce two at the one time) player, to get us to tournaments.
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