Grandad enjoys ’fantastic another world’ before 2021 kickoff
ON top of Andy Ogden's 2021 wishlist for the Ipswich Knights is helping the club's talented under-20 players become permanent first-team footballers.
The Knights head coach has always backed youth provided they have the right attitude and ability to step up in higher grades.
With next year's Football Queensland Premier League (FQPL) structure having senior, under-23 and under-18 competitions, Ogden wants to build on what some of his under-20 players achieved this season.
"It's a massive gap between 18s and 23s,'' he said.
"We've probably retained around 10 of our under-20 group, so they'll move into that (under-23 competition).
"Then we'll have a few project players that will come from our under-18 squad and we will work with to try and develop them to become good under-23 players.
"It's too easy to go out and get other players from other clubs.
"It's much more difficult to actually get these players, work hard with them and develop them into good players.
"We'll top it up with outside players because someone always turns up. But we don't want to just discard all the people we've worked with for the last couple of years.''
Ogden said it was important to recognise players with promise and help them progress.
"We've got to be prepared to work hard as coaches, and a club, to help develop these kids,'' he said.
The Ipswich coach was confident at least 90 per cent of his top team players would return.
But with the 2020 FQPL season just finishing last month, he wants his players to have a major break with their families until returning to training on January 5.
"I've just asked the boys to do a little bit on their own, as in a little bit of conditioning,'' he said.
"It was such a long season and a difficult season in some ways.
"If we have to play catch-up (in the new year), we'll play catch-up. But I thought we'll be okay.''
Ogden's pre-season plan is to play in the Mitchelton tournament, which provides four quality matches over a month, along with some Friendlies against sides like Easts.
The 2021 season is expected to kick off in March.
While he has urged his players to enjoy some time away from football, Ogden is doing the same.
Andy and wife Ann enjoy spending time with their two grandchildren, especially around Christmas.
"My whole focus outside football now is my grandkids,'' he said.
"It's just another world. It's fantastic.''
After his break, the Knights head coach will focus on what is hopefully a more normal 2021 season.
He shared his overriding football goals.
"It's to work harder than last year and prove to me that these under 20s that I was bringing through last year can really show that they want to be a first-team players,'' he said.
"I don't think we'll be good enough to win the league but I don't think there will be any team on their day that, if we play really well, will beat us.
"I just want it to be a really good competitive squad . . . with a good training, good work ethic.
"At our level, we do it seriously but it's also for pleasure. We don't do it for the money.''