Kossie’s 50th – Part Two
Brisbane City beat Redlands United in the NPL Queensland on Saturday night, in what was Kossie’s 50th game in charge of City in the NPL – Read the report here.
Prior to the game, Kossie spoke to Simon Smale about a variety of topics concerning the game, including milestones, youth development in the NPL, getting out of your comfort zone and the Brisbane City season so far.
In part two Kossie gets into the problems in promoting talented youngsters into the senior side, the ever widening gap between the NPL and the A-League and whether a second tier would help bridge it.
The kid’s alright
Making his first team debut for Polonia Adelaide aged just 16, Kosmina was something of a young progeny, but lamentably that is unlikely to happen now according to Kosmina, as the bureaucracy inherent in Australian Football today inhibits the chances of youngsters that being allowed to make the jump into first team football.
“If he’s good enough, he’s old enough. That’s the attitude I take.” Kossie argues.
“I can understand, because bureaucracy is out of control at any level you want to talk about, especially football because as the game has become more legislative there’s more and more pencil pushers sitting behind desks making up rules to keep themselves busy and generate revenue because it’s all about registrations for the governing body.”
“But how difficult is it now to get a 15 year old to play first grade? I have to get permission off the State TD. That shouldn’t be a question.” Kosmina said, shaking his head.
“We’ve got enough experience in this club – if you look at the staff we’ve got here – to make a judgement like that, and clubs should be trusted with that. If they blow a chance then maybe you look at how they do it in the future, but I wouldn’t push a 15 year old or 16 year old up if he wasn’t ready.”
When Kossie made his first team debut as a 16 year old, he played alongside seasoned professionals, something the former striker admits doesn’t happen too much now as players in the NPL are all much younger.
“The thing is it’s a lot easier now I think because most of the team are only a few years older than you.” Kossie suggested.
“When I was 16 I played with men. 30 year olds, 32 year olds. Men who’d come from other parts of the world to Australia to live after the War. And they were hard blokes. Some of them worked in factories, some were on building sites, they were truck drivers, it was incredibly different to what it is now days.”
Is that the biggest change Kosmina has noticed in his 45 years in the game?
“Yeah, but you know what all those guys were good footballers.” Kosmina stares. “And they didn’t have a curriculum. They didn’t have technical directors, they didn’t have full time coaches and people earning a lot of money out of the game teaching them how to play football.”
“So you wonder where we’ve all gone wrong…” Kossie added with a mischievous smile.
The big step up
Not many players have made the jump to the A-League from the NPL with Kosmina acknowledging that there are significant challenges facing players who try to make the jump between the grades
But should one player make the jump into the A-League from City, the Club would consider that a huge achievement.
“From the club’s point of view, from everyone’s point of view it is.” Kosmina agrees. “For the player in particular because I think it’s damn hard to get into the A-League from the NPL, because the A-League clubs don’t want to know about it.”
“They pay lip service to it but they don’t really push the point and I understand why partly because there is such a massive gap now between A-League and NPL. And I saw that when I coached in the A-League.”
“When Adelaide United started we took a lot of players out of the state league system and they went on to have two, three, four years in the A-League.
“At Sydney I tried and brought a few youngsters in, and at Adelaide again I brought a couple of kids in, but they struggled because in the last five or six years the gap has really widened. So it is difficult.”
Does Kossie think that this means the gap is getting wider?
“Ye it is. Because I don’t think the NPL clubs have the resources to stay in touch with the A-League clubs.”
This is a gap that the implementation of a second tier competition could hope to bridge, but Kossie pleads a cautionary approach when it comes to a proposed second tier.
“It will. Provided there’s the finance there to do it. There’s no point in having a second tier and then you get like the NSL in 1977 when three, four clubs were broke after year one. They couldn’t survive, they disappeared. Clubs like Mooroolbark were in for one year then out. There were all sorts of teams in and out that NSL in the first 10 years.”
“It has to be (the intermediary).” Kosmina continued. “They’ve got to be basically full time. Obviously on less wages, you cant have an A-League budget in a second tier professional NPL competition. It just wont work.
“An A-League budget will cost you $10million a year to run and I know the association with the PFA is talking $2.5million but that’s fairy stuff as well, it wont work. But you’ve got to somehow find a way to get your players earning $40-50 grand a year. If you look at 20 players that’s still a lot of dough.”
Part time dilemma
With the principle difference between the NPL and A-League being contact time, does Kosmina ever get frustrated that he can’t have access to the players he has now on a full time basis?
“Yeah, I look at what we’ve got now and how much more could be done on a full time basis, because you can break your sessions up. You can work on defending in isolation, you can individualise your conditioning model or personalise it so all your defenders do the same sort of training, your midfielders do something else your strikers do something different.”
“I’d like to just do an hour put aside a week for just finishing. Players could probably just do that but then you’d be overloading the keepers and you overload the players and you wear the pitch out, so we don’t.
“The resources just aren’t there, but then the other side of that is that is it up to the club entirely? Should the player have some onus of responsibility to stay behind for 15 minutes every night to work on something?”
“When I was a kid growing up we’d just play football every day, I don’t know if these kids do that.” Kossie laments.
“Obviously that stops when you get older and you get jobs and things like that but you always used to just mess round for 20 minutes half an hour afterwards just trying to do different things.”
Is that a source of frustration for Kossie?
“No, it’s just a mindset these days. and its a hard thing to break down.” Kosmina says stoically, knowing the social habits of millennials are far outside his remit and beyond his control.
“It was good the other night,” Kossie continued, “Three or four players stayed behind and did some shooting, because our finishing last weekend was poor. We got into great areas we just didn’t hit the target.”
“It’s a mindset. Football, 90% of it is played up in the head. You can have the body, you can have the best physique, you can have everything in the world, but if your head is not in the right space then it counts for nowt.”