MAJOR SHAKE UP: A-League club sets up new Ipswich Academy
A-LEAGUE club Brisbane Roar have dramatically boosted their football presence in the western corridor by establishing a "Strategic Academy Partnership'' with the Ipswich Knights.
However, Roar Academy technical director Drew Sherman believes the "unique'' arrangement won't be in opposition to the region's current state league club Western Pride, also with A-League ambitions.
"We encourage the growth of the game and the growth of the sport,'' Sherman said, excited about what the latest "all encompassing'' program will provide for the region.
"We don't see there being any competition really.
"If that means Western Pride are the other entity then of course, we are very supportive of that.
"Our program certainly won't exclude Western Pride players . . . and what we are not going to do is to take players away from the clubs.''
While the Roar already has a range of coaching programs with other major clubs around the state, Sherman said the Knights partnership at Booval was tackling new territory.
"It's different from all of our other club partnerships,'' he said.
"In this one for us, we will actually deliver the entire program ourselves, as Brisbane Roar in the area.
"In our previous club partnerships, what we do is to support their coaches.''
The Roar Academy TD said all players registered in the region, including those aligned with church soccer clubs, can share in Roar's coaching and development expertise.
"It's open for any children in the area to attend, which has meant we can reduce the cost to be involved,'' Sherman said.
"The premise for us is to create a quality environment, to give children access to our coaches and our qualified staff without taking them away from their existing clubs.
"They can play for their existing coach and our training will be used to supplement that.''
Under the Roar-Knights Academy partnership, coaches from the A-League club will work at Knights training sessions twice a week.
The initial focus will be developing players aged 7-12 and assisting coaches working with those teams.
A forum is being held at the Ipswich Knights clubhouse from 6pm tonight for people interested in finding out more about the partnership.
Recently elected Ipswich Knights vice-president Danny Wilson said having the expertise of the Roar's technical department would provide more opportunities for young players.
"It's an Academy to try and expose some of our players from the (western) corridor to identify them as future Roar players,'' Wilson said.
"It's kind of a catch-22 situation where we get the value from having the coaches come through to work with our players but at the same time provide that coach education for our existing coaches to start development.''
The former Knights player and top team coach said the program would be a 40 week cycle, starting with two nights a week, from January 15.
The Academy is being launched as the Ipswich Knights club prepares to enter next year's inaugural Football Queensland Premier League competition, a tier below the state's National Premier League series.
Sherman said while players aged 7-12 would be the first beneficiaries of the program, additional training would be provided for selected western corridor players aged 13-16.
"Brisbane Roar Football Club will ensure it's financially inclusive and help these players to bridge the gap and transition into our Academy environment in the future,'' he said.
Ipswich club accessible for future development
THE Ipswich Knights were chosen for the latest Brisbane Roar expansion plan due to its Booval location and facilities.
Roar Academy technical director Drew Sherman said the Knights offered an easily accessible base "just off the road'' for developing players in the western corridor.
"It's a great strategic location,'' he said.
"It's more about Brisbane Roar establishing a presence in an area that is a growing population and another important strategic area for us to make sure we have tangible pathways there to our Academy.''
Ipswich Knights vice-president Danny Wilson said the partnership was secured after months of planning.
Sherman said Roar were keen to support the Knights' tactical development.
"We had very good discussions with people at the club. They were very keen to be involved,'' Sherman said. "When you look at any type of relationship or partnership, it's all about the people you work with and they (Knights) shared our vision.
"They wanted to be inclusive and accessible and have an alignment with us in our brand in the area.
"The premise is to increase the amount of football available to youngsters in the area without detracting from their existing club commitments.''
An information evening is being held at the Ipswich Knights Football Club (Brisbane Road, Booval) from 6pm tonight.
Interested football people are welcome to attend to learn more about what the program will look like and how it will be delivered.