Thursday 23 November 2017

Ireland 15 years behind -- Dokter

John Fallon

FAI high performance director Ruud Dokter has warned that it could take up to 15 years for the structures of the game in Ireland to be overhauled.

Since the Dutchman assumed control on August 1 of the biggest football position in the FAI outside of the senior manager's, he has surveyed the landscape to ascertain what's required to bring Irish grassroots football into the modern era.

Stressing that his vision to improve the structures and standards of the game requires unity from traditionally entrenched factions across the football community -- as well as funding -- Dokter's timeframe for results extends far beyond the lifetime of his first contract.

"There is no common pathway for players in Ireland," he said.

"In terms of organisation, we have to improve and I believe there is an obligation on everybody to improve.

"That will take more than a few weeks but is one of the key focus points for 2014.

"Changing that is never a quick process. It might take 10 or 15 years but ultimately it will improve the game in Ireland.

CONSULT

"I am going to start with a national plan showing what we have to do.

"We will involve and consult people before we agree that this is the way.

"Rather than tell people what to do, I want them to ask questions so we can adapt to a good structure."

Dokter cited the example of his native country's masterplan back in the 1980s as reason to be hopeful of a sea-change being achieved in Ireland.

He was a student of the late great Rinus Michels, the Dutch mastermind responsible for introducing the concept of 'Total Football' in Holland.

"I was very lucky to work as a development officer under Rinus Michels," he said, "so I've seen it, done it and know what it takes.

"It takes a consistent, sustainable policy that is stuck to. One that doesn't change from year to year."

Key to his plan of action is lowering the age of the FAI's Emerging Talent Programme from U-14 to U-12, an exercise conditional on investment.

Given that there were budget reductions in the ETP over the last two years, Dokter admits he is relying on cash to have the project delivered.

"We need the ideas first but money must be taken into account," he confessed.

"The question is 'how do we fund it?' and maybe you have to adjust the plan."

Irish Independent

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