Tom Laxton primed for more success at Brisbane City in 2019
The overwhelming sense of the past season is one of success at Brisbane City, but that does not mean the club and coaches can rest of their laurels in 2019, says technical director Tom Laxton.
City had a sterling year in the NPL, with four of the six teams reaching their respective grand finals and one other into semi-finals, meaning that City would have come out on top of a theoretical club championships.
Tom was thrilled with the outcome, outlining that the hard work of the players and coaches, combined with the club’s structure enabled this result to be achieved.
“The work ethic of the players that came into those positions, (vacated by players leaving to A-League academies), the coaching staff, and the way we do things at the club.
“It’s a combination of all of those things,” Tom agreed.
“We can only use it as a yardstick, it doesn’t really mean anything that club championship – but I think when you pair it with the player movement, players moving up age groups and players moving on to A-League trials… I think it reflects a job well done for the year.
“But that’s that year done and we’re already on to the next season and the hard work starts again.”
Next season will see a couple of changes around the club, not least Tom helping to oversee the NPL under 16 age group, one of the bridging age-groups at the club.
“I’m splitting the role with [NPL under 18’s coach Nick Green],” Tom explained.
“This wont effect the technical director role at the club – I will still be overseeing the entire program to make sure we are applying our system as best we can to give as good coaching as possible to all our members, but we are in the fourth year of that coaching set up now so many of our processes are bedded in now.”
“The other age groups certainly wont be losing support and Nick will be helping me with the direct coaching of the under 16’s anyway.”
The reason for Tom’s special interest in this group of players is part of the club’s new focus on helping to ease the transition from junior football to senior football.
Under 16’s are one of two bridging-age groups – the other being the under 12 SAP teams – within the club, that is, age-groups that are in their last year of playing under a particular phase of development. For the under 12’s, that means playing 9-a-side for the last year – another area that Tom will be keeping a close eye on with Nick de Jong as age group coach.
For the under 16’s, this year is the final year of junior football under development game conditions.
“It’s mainly part of the change to bring the under 16’s in line with the senior set up,” Tom said.
“There will be a bit of tough love involved,” Tom said, “it will be hard, but it will be good for them.”
“They are a strong group, they made the grand final in the competition last year and we wouldn’t be testing them if we didn’t think they were up for it.
“But it’s important that we see how these players adapt to being put under pressure, being placed in an environment that is a little bit outside their comfort zone, whether they sink or swim.”
Tom highlighted that the approach of Brisbane City youth pathway was to create high quality players, not strong teams, but that taking this approach will undoubtedly lead to a stronger set up.
“What we do, it’s not about making good under 16 teams or good under 18 teams. It’s about making quality individual players who can go on to play for the senior team,” Tom said.
“Kossie and the first team want to win every week, and we need top players coming through to be able to do that. They need to be able to cope with that type of pressure on their game.”
The key aim for Tom next year though, will be to continue the high levels of success in regard to on-field performance, and developing talented footballers capable of higher honours.
Last year, in the junior ranks (under 13’s to Under 16’s), three of the four NPL teams also made their finals series after recording top four finishes on the ladder.
But that’s not the only success to crow about.
The much vaunted pathway towards a professional set up has continued to flow through Brisbane City this season, with eight players trialling at various A-League clubs at the end of this season with two signing agreements.
“Winning trophies and things at junior levels is great but really, the most important thing is moving those players on to the top level and to really crack it. Until we get there, which will be in the near future, that’s our job.”
“Last year was an interesting year,” Tom said to summarise.
“I think the two previous years were about getting the groundwork in and building a platform and this year, for me, was that transition from that platform into really pushing on. When you consider the number of junior players we developed to the A league academies and the quality rebuild that naturally had to happen we can now kick on and really push on for next year.
“This year was a springboard for what’s coming next especially with the fantastic coaches we have for 2019.”