SOCCER WHOSE?

Well that concludes another Socceroos World Cup campaign.

Are we happy? We as Australians, are we proud of our team and how we competed? Although there are many Australian sporting fans that would perhaps argue that our team fought with true Aussie grit and didn't give up, I am not so convinced - at what point are we going to start taking ourselves seriously as a footballing nation?

It may sound like crying over spilt milk as to even be in Russia for these couple of weeks means that we are in the top 32 nations in the world from a footballing spectrum, but really, are we? I can't help but feel that the Australian football story is beginning to sound like a broken record. How many times can we put in solid performances as the "underdog" and be happy to walk away with our what ifs and bad luck? I for one am no longer happy sitting on the fence.

Conscious that I might be taking an easy standing point with the direction of this piece I don't intend for this to be an opinionated article that points the finger as I take my hopes for this campaign in Russia with my bat and ball and take them home; rather provide some creative suggestions on how I believe we should navigate the next path of Australia's footballing story.

Obviously now we all need to take a moment to hurt and feel the pain from what we've just experienced REALLY at this World Cup, that is complete and utter annihilation and use it as an opportunity to take the pain and throw it exponentially into an effort to disrupt our current national system to find our own brand of football. That means re-assessing and re-evaluating almost everything we do from the way we mentor the junior ranks, to the day to day training and just our overall strategy and outlook on the beautiful game.

My suggestion? Start fresh. Give ourselves a long term plan, 10, 20, 30 years down the track where do we want to be? My hopes is that we are all on the same page with believing, honestly, that we can win this thing. I believe in the Australian spirit, I believe in our sporting capabilities and our desire to compete; somewhere along the lines we just got it slightly wrong and have veered further and further off track over the past 10-12 years (after South Africa in 2006 when it felt like we were making in roads). So I definitely think with a bit of tender love and care we can generate this great land into a footballing powerhouse. 

I think the answer lies in developing our own reputable brand of football. Similar to the way people talk about the way the Spainish pass, the way Brazilians play with ginga, the English play wide and cross....We need the same, what do we do? Honestly I feel like we try and copy. If we can develop a unique and authentic brand of football from a grass root level, by that I mean in the A league, then take that to our national set up I can't help but feel like it would have the same affect as the AFL will have when it eventually goes international - by that I mean, nobody will beat us at our own game.  

It's going to be a challenge to change the habits of the players that have been playing in Europe or with the European style their whole life, so this has to be a 10, 20, 30 year plan...Effort put into our young players, players who are still young enough to play with the limits of their imagination, develop their own style and the flair that only comes from that child like approach to a skill like football. We need to nurture them and support risky football in our  youth system - no more "If in doubt kick it out," no more "Professional Fouls" diving all the b*ll S*%t that takes away from the opportunity to build the superior confidence that comes from trying something and it working. Let's encourage our younger players to play with one touch, take on their opponent, pass and move, have the confidence to shoot, be the fittest players on the park etc. 
If I was a person in power in Australian football I would be looking at taking the best strategy's from sports that we succeed in and applying them to football. Why can't we have a defensive squad that works and travels together with a specialist defence coach that takes them to train and learn from the best defensive teams in the world in any sport like the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA. Why can't the kids that show a little bit of flair at an early age be taken to the streets of Brazil a couple of times a year throughout their adolescence to maintain their spark for taking on their opponent. Why can't we put more money be put into the John Moriarty Foundation to provide a supportive pathway to allow the talent of more Indigenous athletes to flourish in a footballing arena on the world stage....

It all sounds a little left of field, but I can't help but feel that it's the untraditional methods that are going to give us an unmatched brand of football that we can be the best at, call our own and be proud of. For too long we have tried to play like other teams and failed. How long can this go on before we realise we aren't doing anything different and therefore can't expect anything special?
Big decisions need to be made, even if the different ones are the wrong ones a couple of times at least we are trying to find our own feet.

I guess time will tell, but I won't lose hope...Australia to win a world cup within the next 30 years if we make the changes now.
It's a beautiful game; the world game we just haven't found our own recipe yet but I know we've got it sitting around somewhere, I can just feel it.