SAP Director Mitch Edwards set for another busy 2019 with City and Terrace
With Brisbane City’s much heralded SAP program going from strength to strength with the club’s Academy being awarded Gold Star status from Football Queensland, it’s going to be a busy year for SAP co-ordinator Mitch Edwards.
You may have noticed that Mitch will not be taking a team this season, in either SAP or NPL, as instead he will be using his time to oversee the expanded SAP program.
However, the time spent on the training paddock is not going to ease for Mitch in 2019.
With his multitude of duties as SAP coordinator, Mitch will be continuing his crucial role with Gregory Terrace Football, helping close the gap between GPS and NPL programs and help expand the club’s community work as part of the My City program.
“It was interesting getting involved at Terrace because it’s a little bit different to club football,” Mitch explained.
“Learning and respecting the school’s values and what they do has been great,” Mitch continued.
““It has been refreshing to work with kids who just love the game, which gives me a bit of a break from just working with the elite squads at Brisbane City, making you remember why so many people play and love the sport..”
The change in environment has suited Mitch, and alongside John Kosmina, Brisbane City’s senior coach who continues his role as first XI team coach at Terrace, he has plenty to look forward to in the coming season.
“Of course there are challenges too,” Mitch acknowledged. “You have to work around their homework schedules, their exam schedules… You’ve got to learn how the whole year’s timetable comes together and where you can plug in from that, so we’ve learned all that.
“Myself and Kossie are pretty excited for this year though because we now know how everything falls out now and we should be able to now build on what we did last year.
The key focus of the season at Gregory Terrace is the GPS competition, a series that runs for nine weeks during Term 2, a time that sometimes presents unique challenges between the clubs and schools.
However, with Mitch and Kosmina both keeping a watchful eye over programs both at City and Terrace, the risk of overloading players has been greatly reduced, for the benefit of all concerned.
“They play eight games with a bye, so they play against all the GPS schools, and yeah it is a tough time for both clubs and schools,” Mitch admitted.
“The biggest advantage we’ve got is that we can well and truly manage workloads between Gregory Terrace and Brisbane City.
“Of course that doesn’t mean that we don’t work with other schools from a club perspective, but it’s very easy for us to manage our players because we know their workload.
“Player welfare is so important, and is particularly well driven from Kossie himself, making sure these players don’t get burned out for club and for school, so anything that we have control over makes this easier going forward.
“It does still present many challenges and there’s definitely space for NPL and GPS to work even closer together in the future.
“The only people who get damaged are the players, who get torn from one side of town to the other.”
Having access to the players in both school competition and the NPL has been a great experience for Mitch, and he notices that players might have slightly different objectives within the two competitions, but there is plenty they can learn from each other.
“Players are all very ambitious within ‘club-land’, they have their goals – and at school they’re certainly ambitious as well, but there is also that sense of pride to play for your school and also that sense of playing with mates that they’ve come through class with.
“At school you know you’re going to be in the same year every year so when you go all the way through with your mates and get to the first team with them, it can be very rewarding.
“You get to see how much they value that and you get to see how much the school’s and the kids all value being a part of it and it’s fantastic, but it’s a matter of trying to find that balance.”
“The schools obviously value that first team and it’s made to be – not just in football, in all their sports – playing for the first squad is seen as a real privilege.
“The players all do their war cries, which isn’t something you normally do in football, but I’d love to see a sense of pride develop with the juniors here to stay for the senior matches.
“There probably won’t be the war cries as such but there is a place for the juniors to aspire to the first team and I think – having a hat in both camps again – from Brisbane City’s perspective, because so many players do make the journey from SAP to NPL into our first team squad, there is that sense that there is a progression and pathway which is that same with the schools.
“You can certainly make sure that the players see that bond and see that connection and want to strive to play first team and encourage some of the younger ones to stay and try and be a part of that culture. The one thing the schools do better than any of the clubs is building culture, and the atmosphere around it all.”
Mitch says that although players sometimes see the first team as a foreign environment from the younger age groups, there is not that much time between entering the NPL set up and knocking on the door of first team selection.
“Our kids don’t realise how close they are to first team football,” Mitch said.
“SAP are a couple of years off, but the NPL under 13, 14, 15, they really are only a couple of years off, especially when you see some of Kosmina’s squads have an average age of 19 years old.
“For our SAP players to have a closer connection to some of those in NPL and they can reflect on their journey through NPL and SAP, hopefully we can start to bond a little bit closer and share experiences with each other which will translate to bigger crowds on match day.”