Mentoring the next generation

As Australia’s football pathway continues to improve, former Socceroos greats and some of our finest talent are staying involved in the development in the next generation of talent.

As Australia-s football pathway continues to improve, former Socceroos greats and some of our finest talent are staying involved in the development in the next generation of talent.

Last week, 23 of our best young players at the Australian Institute of Sport were able to take part in a mentoring program, talking to some of the best footballers Australia has produced.

Craig Moore, Craig Foster, Kevin Muscat and Clint Bolton were among those who took part, aiming to pass on their years of experience and collected knowledge of playing at the very highest level with the aim of enabling our future players with the tools to build a successful career in football.

As part of the program, run as part of the My Football Career strategy, in partnership with FFA and the PFA, young players will be assigned with a mentor who can offer advice, build confidence and share their knowledge.

As Foster said in his weekly newspaper column recently, the goal is for every generation to go further than those who came before.

“It is here, I believe, where our 2006 generation can have a huge impact, by teaching the kids of today the lessons from their own careers and the values that saw them through when times were tough, as they will be for every player at some point, irrespective of ability or status.”

Talking to, Craig Moore reiterates the point - Australia now has a group of former players with plenty to offer those coming through the ranks.

“We need to mentor these kids and give them the right mindset where a ‘No- doesn-t mean you-re not going to have a career; it-s just a setback,” Moore says.

“Being resilient, being able to go to different environments and not be the same as the person next to you - you have to be better.

“We sat down with 23 kids at the AIS who all expect to get an A-League contract, and I said, don-t expect that because nothing is handed to you on a plate.

“Younger players need to develop their mindset - the determination, the hunger, the ability - it-s not enough; they need to be able to bring all of that together. If they-re going to a trial in a different state or a different country, and they-re the same as the player that club-s already got, to get that position, they-ve got to be better than him.

“All we-re trying to do is give these boys the right information and instil the right things.”

More than just a one-day talk, the program features an ongoing relationship between mentor and mentee, providing support and advice as the player moves through their football career, wherever that takes them - something Moore understands well, after a long and successful career in Europe and Australia.

“We-re investing a lot of time in these kids and unfortunately not everyone-s going make it,” Moore says.

“Clint Bolton is part of the program, and he-s had an 18-year career in Australia and what an achievement that is. That-s something else I told the young players - don-t be in a rush to go overseas.

"We-ve got a good national league in place, if they're playing A-League football and have represented Australia at u17s, u20s - they're in a far stronger position to see a new challenge overseas.

“The more elite side of that is going overseas and speaking with our players there, letting them know we-re looking out for them and we want to do the best for them.

"Someone like Eli Babalj, for example; if we don-t- invest a bit of time in him over the next three to six months, don-t be surprised that he-s been selected for Serbia. We want to avoid these problems; these players have come through our system and we want them playing for our country.”

Moore emphasises that the program ultimately aims to make use of our most experienced players to improve our least experienced.

“We need to think a bit deeper than what we see on the football field. The mentors are going to help create that culture - and there is going to be more players coming back off brilliant careers.

“We-re all desperate to see our game to do well, for each and every national team to do better than the last one, because I enjoyed my career and played in two World Cups - but I want players getting through and getting further than I ever did.”