Perth Glory’s new coach Alistair Edwards has described WA soccer’s development system as a “Ferrari with nowhere to park.”
Edwards, who landed in the Glory hot seat yesterday after Ian Ferguson was sacked, has immediately indicated his intention to make better use of local talent and was quick to throw his support behind a push for a Home of Football.
Local peak body Football West is leading the charge in the hope that key policy makers will commit funding in the lead up to the March 9 election for a new administration and training centre.
Edwards, who has inherited a team at rock bottom on the A-League table, highlighted the importance of having a central base to the continued development of local players.
Young WA players have excelled under the guidance of National Training Centre chief Kenny Lowe and Glory assistant Gareth Naven at Gibbney Reserve in Maylands, but Edwards said improved facilities and a shared-knowledge centre would enhance their development.
The former Glory and Socceroos striker, who has taken leave of absence from his position as assistant national technical director to attend to A-League matters on an interim basis, said a home was crucial to ensuring WA continued to produce high-calibre players.
“If football is really serious about things we can’t be driving around in a Ferrari looking for a place to park,” he said. “We’ve got to have a place to call home.”
Edwards highlighted the work being done in Northern New South Wales and Victoria as examples of what government support can achieve.
“We have an opportunity to be one among the best in the world and if we don’t do something very quickly we’ll fall behind,” he said.
“There are a lot of people who have a lot of passion for football in this state and we want it to prosper. That can’t happen if we haven’t got the infrastructure.”
Edwards, who is a former Cockburn City councillor and also worked for the Department of Sport and Recreation, admitted the game’s past political instability had made it difficult for government to commit to funding.
“Not long ago, the game didn’t really have its act together,” he said. “But at Football West now, under the stewardship of Peter Hugg, the game has made great strides.
“Every other sport is getting it and every other state is doing it. Now we need it.”