Friday, September 12, 2008

You Get What You Pay For...

The Football Federation of Australia has reportedly earmarked A$10 million ($8.75 million Canadian) to help the team in their World Cup and Asian Cup qualifying campaigns according to reports in the Australian media.

To put that in a Canadian context the Canadian Soccer Association's entire budget is approximately $12-13 million. The CSA budget is to cover all national team programs, operations and management.

The Australians spent $875,000 CDN to charter a flight from Europe to Uzbekistan for their FIFA World Cup Group A opener in Tashkent, where the Aussies won 1-0. A commercial flight from Europe, where most of the Australian players are based, to Tashkent would involve a two-day trip with a chartered plane, the squad were able to make the journey in around seven hours, allowing good time for preparation

The Canberra Times quoted FFA chief executive Ben Buckley as saying that the Aussies must spend to keep up with other nations also vying for top billing in Asia.

“You have to provide the right level of support. This is an ultra-, ultra-competitive environment we live in," Buckley was quoted as saying.

“Teams like Japan, Korea, the west Asian teams, they all invest huge amounts in their teams, and that's the environment we live in.

“They don't scrimp, and we can't afford to, particularly with the logistics of moving players from one end of the world to the other. It's a substantial investment we're making, but it's worth it. In fact, not only do we need to match what the other teams are doing, we have to try and do things even better."

That folks is how you succeed at the international level of the game - you don't just strive to meet your competition's level on and off the field - you aim to beat them. What a refreshing attitude - "we came to win."

Remember this is Australia who could have stayed in the Oceania pool and virtually assured themselves of top dog status forever but asked FIFA to move into the Asian confederation to improve their level of competition.

Perhaps, since the CSA does not seem interested in increasing the quality of our programs or finding the resources to do so could petition FIFA to become part of the Oceania confederation and increases our chances of success - of course we still would have to beat Fiji and New Zealand and the plane flights would be even longer...

The CSA and the Provincial Presidents that form the board of directors and in reality control the CSA and what it does do not often agree on things let alone all pull in the same direction. As is the norm in Canadian politics at all levels a "me-first" attitude is pervasive in all the decisions they make or more importantly the ones they don't.

A perfect example the fiascoes that resulted in the hiring / non-hiring of Fred Nykamp and the hiring almost by default of Dale Mitchell as coach of the men's national team and the drawn out two year search for a technical director that resulted in them hiring Stephen Hart an in-house choice that was as obvious as it was bland.

The board is dysfunctional and has been for some time - the structure itself is wrong - but as I have said before the liklihood of change is slim since the people in charge would have to vote themselves out of existance.

It comes down to vision. It comes down to leadership. The vacuum that exists at the association "leadership" level in this country is appalling but as someone once said, "You get what you pay for..."

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