An artificial pitch and Sydney United planning for success - it sounds like something from another age. But coach Mark Rudan says it's a step into the future.
An artificial pitch and Sydney United planning for success - it sounds like something from another age. But the new surface at Edensor Park instead signals this great old club-s intention to focus on the future.
With the NSW Premier League already eight rounds in, United will this weekend finally be able to test out their new pitch, an expensive investment that aims to make football a year-round game for those involved with the club.
Not only will it remain in perfect condition for the senior team, but teams at all levels will be able to use the impressive facilities - something coach Mark Rudan says is crucial to the club-s aims of once again becoming a leader in player development.
“The club decided in order to move forward and become the best development club in the country they needed to move down that path,” Rudan says.
“Over the year there-s a lot of wear and tear on that pitch and you struggle to play on it. And that-s not just first grade, but all the way through to the youth programs as well.
“There has been no money from local councils or state government; it-s come from people who have the club at heart and put a lot of blood, sweat and tears in and want to make the club what it was.
"When you look around the majority of the A-League clubs don-t have a pathway for youth development and that-s where a lot of the Premier League clubs will play a significant role.
“There has always been a lot of talent come through the Sydney United but we want to relive the past so speak and become the best development club in the country.”
Development is one of football-s buzzwords at the moment and it-s bandied around far too easily often without a plan to back it up.
But with a production line that boasts the likes of Tim Cahill, Mark Bosnich, Graham Arnold, Jason Culina, Robbie Slater and Tony Popovic it-s hard to argue with Sydney United-s pedigree.
But again, that-s a nod to the past and as Rudan says, this is a forward-looking club. The foundation of the new Premier Leagues, with its goals of promoting young talent and giving each club a director of football, has sharpened the focus of many second-tier teams.
With the A-League maturing, Rudan believes that those NSL survivors have been given a chance to show that they still play a crucial part in the game, developing the next generation of talent and, just possibly, the next generation of A-League teams.
“It-s important that every club gets with the times,” he says.
“A lot of NSL clubs were hurt when the A-League started and it-s taken some time for them to regroup and understand that they still have a major role to play in Australian football. There are a lot of positives and it-s a slow and steady approach where we understand what role we need to play in the game.
“It has been tough for a while and it-s a work in progress but hopefully now we-ve got something set in stone which will last a long time. I-ve got a three-10 year plan for the club. I-d love to see the u10s today in the first XI in 10 years- time. Then, if they-re good enough, go into the A-League and then possibly a stepping stone to overseas.
“Time will tell whether we do have the ability to progress into the A-League with all the other clubs. The resources are there. You-d be lucky to find an A-League club that owns their own stadium and saves a lot of money.
“I-m not saying a Premier League club will be in the A-League in the short term but it-s definitely something has to be thought of. I think it-s got to happen and it-s an important transition for our game.”