Having entered the Gold Coast competition last season, Southern Cross University FC have gone leaps and bounds. They have continually worked on improving themselves and the processes they apply to ensure that the program they have in place is effective and constantly improving. We caught up with their President, Scott Collis, who answered some key questions about how the program began to where it is now!
MM: Can you explain the relationship between Liverpool International Academy and Southern Cross University?
SC: Southern Cross University some years ago built a football education facility in Lismore and in looking to activate that site for the good of our community the University entered into negotiations with one of the worlds great professional clubs to create a football development program. After a lot of hard work Liverpool Football Club International Academy NSW was created as an Australia first collaboration bringing together the facilities, expertise and teaching resources of Southern Cross University with the proven football education methodology and philosophy of the world famous Liverpool Football Club. The University through the Southern Cross Football Club is now bringing a range of benefits to the local football community – one of which is the Liverpool Academy which among other things provides the training program for Southern Cross University teams competing in the Gold Coast Junior Premier League.
MM: What made you guys begin the Academy and what was the driving force?
SC: We have a very strong football community on the North Coast but only a few years ago there were lots of problems delivering a meaningful high performance program, delivering coach education and creating opportunity for players, families and coaches. Despite the efforts of wonderful club people there was a very disjointed pathway with no regular matches for high performance teams.Quite simply we, as a region, could do better and through the Academy we have engaged local people to make a difference. We are extremely grateful to Football Gold Coast and the Gold Coast Football Community for allowing us this opportunity. We recognise that making room for us comes at a cost and inconvenience, travelling to Byron Bay for instance. However I can say that this effort on the part of Gold Coast Clubs is creating a tangible difference for the game in our region and the lives of young people here, who for many years had no opportunity to play regularly at a higher level. As I said we are very grateful for that chance and respect the fact that it is a privilege.
MM:How long did it take to prepare and get up and running?
SC: We started negotiations with Liverpool Football Club in early 2015 and came to agreement to create Australia’s first Liverpool FC International Academy a year later in March 2016.
MM: What did you have to do to get the relationship with Liverpool?
SC: Clearly for a massive club like Liverpool partnering with a University in regional NSW was not their first thought when looking for a partner in Australia. Southern Cross University is a vibrant, contemporary university which welcomes students from more than 50 countries throughout the world and offers undergraduate and postgraduate courses in an inspiring and supportive learning environment. Liverpool’s ambitions for the International Academy program are to deliver programmes around the world which educate young players in football but also life skills such as communication, team work, problem solving and goal setting while being absolutely authentic to LFC Academy philosophy and practices. I put together a proposal that I think got them interested then in late 2015 I travelled to Liverpool and discussed the mission of Southern Cross University. When we got together there was a feeling that our missions fit very well together and Liverpool International Academy NSW was born.
MM: What benefit has this had for the local community kids?
SC: Well to start with it created excitement both with coaches and players. Our local High Performance program had two coaches and around 60 players. We now have 25 coaches and 150 players in High Performance and another 90 in Skill Development so it has changed the landscape here. But now we have put substance behind that initial excitement. We have established video analysis along with a platform for the amazing additional benefits that Southern Cross University brings to the table which sees academics and students working to educate players and parents in subjects like strength and conditioning, injury management and nutrition alongside psychology topics like goal setting, resilience and mental toughness. The other benefit is that the level of education for both coaches has been altered. We have put around 100 coaches through varying levels of coach education which we believe compliments licences delivered through FFA. We have just commenced a new program for grass roots coaches at local clubs where we have had a great response. Thanks to Southern Cross University a whole community is coming together behind an opportunity for coaches and players.
MM:What are the long term plans for the club moving forward?
SC: Its early days for us – we are only 18 months into our existence. Despite that the club rates this program as its leading International Academy globally; but we want to do more.We are looking at expanding our Skill Development program into different ages and different regional areas.We are also looking at expanding the High performance program alongside a range of new education programs working with local schools. A big focus for us is school engagement in 2018.
Well done to Scott and the team at Southern Cross University FC! Keep up the great work!