Australian football should do more than just hope Ange Postecoglou’s success in the J1 League with Yokohama F. Marinos might open doors for our coaches in Asia.
It should inspire a deeper conversation about how we can create more opportunities.
More opportunities for Australian coaches to learn in full-time professional environments. More opportunities for coaches to collaborate and connect. More opportunities for coaches to experiment and develop their own philosophies.
A coach like Postecoglou isn’t formed by a coaching course or a certificate. You can’t take a video of Postecoglou’s latest game and tell a coach that his team should play like this.
Postecoglou’s best teams succeed so convincingly because they are formed in his image.
No doubt he had his influences. He saw football he liked and football he didn’t like.
On ABC’s Offsiders on Sunday morning, he said he wanted to build teams his dad would enjoy watching.
That tells you that his vision for what a good football team looks like has been forming since he was a child.
If you speak to the people he played with, they’ll tell you the same thing.
I was privileged to witness Postecoglou’s triumph first-hand and I spoke to him before and after the game.
Aside from witnessing history – not just for Australian football, but for Yokohama and its fans – speaking to Postecoglou and the people around him demonstrated just how important his sense of footballing purpose is to the success he enjoys.
He does not coach teams to win one-off matches. He doesn’t pick players for any given game because it will get him a result.
Everything he does – from the project he picks to the staff he brings with him and the players he recruits – is done with a single-minded objective to produce a specific style of football.
And because he believes in that style – more than any one-off result or piece of silverware – his players can believe in it. It takes on greater importance than a single game.
Up-and-coming coaches should be inspired by Postecoglou’s achievement, but not compelled to copy how he did it.
It is incumbent on them to find the football they believe in.
It is incumbent on Football Federation Australia to drive a culture that encourages greater opportunities for coaches to fail, to succeed, to learn and to inspire.
Ange Postecoglou’s achievement is an important one, but it would be a mistake to rely on his successes to open doors for others.
His success is his own. It can’t be copied, but it can inspire something different.