NEW coach joins Home of Football push

Perth Glory’s new coach Alistair Edwards has thrown his immediate support behind the push to build a Home of Football, urging key decision makers to commit to funding the project.

Perth Glory-s new coach Alistair Edwards has thrown his immediate support behind the push to build a Home of Football, urging key decision makers to commit to funding the project.

Edwards, who has been drafted into the Glory hot seat as an interim replacement for Ian Ferguson, highlighted the importance of having a combined administration, training and competition venue, linking it directly to the further development of high-quality players.

The former Perth Glory and Socceroos striker, who has taken leave of absence from his position as assistant national technical director while he attends to A-League matters, said WA was in danger of falling behind the times if politicians did not commit to funding a Home of Football.

Edwards compared the current development system, which is run at a series of suburban grounds, to owning a high-performance sports car without having a garage.

“If football is really serious about things, we can-t be driving around in a Ferrari looking for a place to park,” said Edwards after his first training session. “We-ve got to have a place to call home.”

He has already made clear his intention to make better use of the pool of players in the Glory youth team but is concerned the great development work done by the likes of National Training Centre coach Kenny Lowe and former Glory youth team boss Gareth Naven, now Edwards- assistant, could be stifled in future.

“I-ve just got back from Northern New South Wales where they-ve got bipartisan support for a Home of Football, so it-s happening in other places,” Edwards said. “We have an opportunity to be among the best in the world and if we don-t do something very quickly we-ll fall behind.

“There are a lot of people who have a lot of passion for football in this state and we want it to prosper.

“We want State League teams to improve, we want player development to be good and we want Perth Glory to be on top. That can-t happen if we haven-t got the infrastructure.”

Edwards, who has worked for the Department of Sport and Recreation and was also a Cockburn City councillor, said improvements in the running of football should make politicians more comfortable with funding commitments.

“Not long ago, the game didn-t really have its act together,” he said. “But at Football West now, under the stewardship of (chief executive) Peter Hugg, the game has made great strides.”

Football West technical director Cris Ola said a Home of Football would directly help the development of around 80 NTC boys from under-14 to under-18 and about 60 girls from under-15 to under-19, on an annual basis.

“A Home of Football would help immensely in the efficiency and the consistency of the delivery of our coaching programs,” Ola said.

“We also know that people identify programs with venues”

He said a central location would also be beneficial to up-skilling community coaches, who play a key role in service delivery.

Former Glory midfielder Brad Hassell, who is WA-s Skill Acquisition Trainer, said demand for grounds was increasing and a Home of Football would solve logistical issues, too.

“We are trying to create an environment where we can train the kids all year round,” he said. “Unfortunately, we don-t have the space to accommodate all the kids at one venue all the time, so there is a lot of ground-hopping.

“If the Home of Football plan became a reality we would be able to get the kids together more often and that would help them become better players. A Home of Football would definitely help us to compete with the world-s best.”

Around 100 kids are involved in the Skill Acquisition Program, many who are aspiring to play for Glory and the Socceroos.