Phillips has a head for football
IN HIS new role as technical director of North Coast Football, Gary Phillips has a few teams under his tutelage but he says we're all playing for the one team.
"We're essentially Australia FC because we're all trying to play the same way,” Phillips said.
"The FFA has a clear vision of how they want to play football, the style of football they want to play.
"We want to play a certain way so all of our junior development programs are structured to the point that they learn to play a certain way to try and produce players to play that way.
"Whether it be wingers or attacking players, it's basically a possession-based style of football that they want to play.”
Essentially Phillips' role is to oversee coach education in player development in the elite pathway.
"At the moment we've got a junior development program about to start which is under-9s, the SAP program which is 10s, 11s, 12s and 13s for the boys and we've got the 14s girls. They train twice a week but go back to the club on the weekends,” he said.
"Then there's the National Premier League (NPL) program which is 13s, 14s, 15s and 16s. That's four boys' teams who play in the Newcastle competition and every second week we're off to Newcastle.”
Proudly Coffs Harbour raised, the 54-year-old will be able to impart knowledge gained from his 15 years of playing in the National Soccer League followed by two decades of coaching in Australia and Asia, including leading Sydney Olympic to a NSL title.
That experience can only help the best North Coast Football juniors as they progress through the ranks.
With the FFA style in mind, Phillips says the best way for the juniors to learn is to constantly work on improving their skills.
"You've got to be able to pass the ball, you've got to control it, you've got to be good in a 1-v-1 situation,” he said.
"For me the focus is the SAP program that coaches the 9s through to the 13s because if we don't get that right, it's like reading and writing, if you can't pass and you can't control the ball you're always going to struggle at the next level, where in the NPL it's more about team play and controlled possession, attacking play and defending, those sort of things.”
He added with his typical honesty that getting those basics right will help fuel a young player's dreams.
"We (Australia) have got no-one playing at Manchester United, no-one at Liverpool, no-one at Barcelona because we can't control it and pass it like they do,” Phillips said. "We need to get that right and then we'll have players at the big clubs.”