Broadford Rovers unveiled the FAI’s new quality symbol for amateur clubs, the Club Mark, as well as exciting new plans for improvements in the club’s facilities last week.
Rovers accepted the award in front of members of the FAI and Martin O’Neill, with the former taking the time to outline to club members the meaning and objectives behind the Club Mark scheme.
The new award is part of the FAI High Performance Director Ruud Dokter’s plan to overhaul the coaching of soccer in Ireland.
Rovers are the first Leinster side to be handed the award and the quickest of the four awarded to date to progress from start-point to fulfilling the award’s criteria. The process took them just five months, an impressive improvement on the previous best of 11 months.
The Club Mark entitles Broadford to carry the associated branding which indicates completion of essential work under three core categories.
The entry level award – which will be followed by a yet-to-be-launched one star award – requires clubs to demonstrate high standards of governance, management and administration, and also plays into the coaching style of the club.
The Club Mark coaching plan has a number of tenets designed to ensure young players play for fun rather than results and so stay in the game for longer. These include the removing of league tables at age groups below Under-12, instructions on coaching and sideline behaviour, strategies designed to ensure game plans are based around development (rather than winning), and a kid-centric approach to coaching.
There are also minimum playing time requirements, ensuring every child gets on the pitch, requirements that positions are rotated, and a new “retreat line” that encourages teams to play out from the back.
FAI representatives Ger McDermott and Vincent Foley outlined the ways in which Broadford had engaged with the scheme, and encouraged people around the club to get behind the philosophy, which they believe will help transform Irish soccer.
Paul Oates and club chairman Mick Shelley also outlined ambitious new plans for a circa €600,000 clubhouse development at Broadford’s Stonemason’s Way ground in Ballinteer.
The plans are very much at a planning stage (and planning permission is yet to be sought), but the club believe their community focus will help in the building of additional parking, a long-standing problem at the ground, alongside a replacement core building.
The new clubhouse has already been designed at 1,900 square feet, but the planning committee hope to expand to a 3,200 square foot version before finalising their ideas. They encouraged contributions in terms of skills and ideas from all in attendance.
While the expansion is subject to planning, the club are confident they may have found a major donor who will put forward a chunk of the money required to undertake the new build.
The broader goals of the club, meanwhile, continue to be around team development. To this end, they currently have every team coached by holders of a UEFA A, B, C or D licenses (a real rarity in an amateur club), and hope to introduce another 15 coaches to the UEFA D tier in the coming months.
They’re also working on developing their women’s team – which recently returned to senior competition – and their academy, and hope to have 30 schoolboy teams by the year 2023. That 30, ideally, will include a top-tier team in every age group.
Given the commitment and turnout on the evening these ambitions look more than realistic: it’s clear there’s plenty of backing behind Rovers’ growth.