A German solution to Irish soccer woes?
Sir, – Further to Emmet Malone’s “O’Neill draw inspiration from great competition” (July 14th), and in relation to the coaching structure the Germans have, it is definitely something that the Republic of Ireland needs to copy and implement. However, there are certain issues that will impact on us following the German model, albeit on a much smaller scale.
This country has a massive following for four sports – both codes of the GAA, rugby and soccer – and soccer is competing with two much better organised associations in the GAA and the IRFU. It could even be argued that the brilliantly run amateur boxing scene is making inroads on soccer in the traditional working-class areas of Dublin and Cork.
The domestic league is in constant crisis. Much of this problem can be laid at the feet of the FAI, but the so-called Irish soccer public needs to take a lot of the blame.
The Setanta Cup was the forerunner for a possible all-Irish league. Attendances were poor at games and that probably has ended any hope of an all-Ireland league.
Many of the Irish soccer fans only give a damn about what is happening at Anfield, Old Trafford or Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium. They don’t care about what is happening at Turner’s Cross or at Tallaght Stadium, with the result that clubs have no money to invest in proper youth coaching.
Ideally, the FAI would implement a national schoolboy league, where the best young lads in Cork play for Cork City and each club would have a Uefa Pro Licence Coach working with the kids in each age group. But given the lack of money in the game in this country, this is about as realistic as Burnley being crowned Premier League champions next May.
The local TD is concerned about re-election and being close to the GAA folk. There is little to gain for TDs from being a friend to the local soccer club.
We can talk all we like about the FAI, but if the football public lacks the desire to change things, then nothing will be done and we will be hanging around hoping that we produce that one world-class (maybe we’ll get lucky and produce two at the one time) player to get us to tournaments. – Yours, etc,