Matildas legend Joey Peters has encouraged Australian coaches to improve the ‘game sense’ in women’s football.
Speaking after Australia’s two big losses to Germany and Holland over the past few days, Peters believes a new approach is a must from grass roots right through to the Matildas set up.
“The last two games have been great lessons for us, for me it shows how much we need to improve game intelligence to deal with the pace of the game so we don’t end up continually losing the ball and chasing,” said Peters, one of Australia’s most decorate footballers.
“We could say we had inexperienced players and no preparation time, but I’m talking about watching even our experienced players, especially the front four who are known as our best and been playing together since babies.
“We need brave ideas for immediate improvements on a cultural stage, but that will also transform systemic long term change from kids and grass roots to W-League and National team.
“My brave idea is that we need to get a main message out to ‘spend every minute on Game Sense’ ASAP, we started it with the initial curriculum, but need to go further fast.”
The Matildas have had little success in major tournaments since winning the 2010 Asian Cup, while both the youth teams (Under 17s and 20s) haven’t qualified for the last seven World Youth Championships.
It is a stunning record that Peters, who is part of the Starting XI, feels will only improve with new ideas.
“I suggest the following practical ideas for our training sessions that will make a huge difference.
“We don’t need more directionless possession games, but games that keep the game moments intact and the ‘tension of tasks’ created of scoring v keeping it, winning it v protecting goal.
“We also need to get rid of FIFA 11 and mindless running. Bring in multi-games (e.g. European Handball, End Zone games with ball in hand) for warmups which means less focus on technical and again, more on tactical game sense and actually nurtures creativity as well.
“We need to replace prescribed passing drills with basic small sided games with tactical challenges like ‘Four Goal Game‘ (more goals = more game sense decisions), with small fields to ensure scoring becomes number one priority and the dominant task rather than keeping possession.
“Every training game/ session keep score, have some kind of competition with set teams to promote team accountability. USA has done this for decades back with Anson Dorrance’s ‘competitive cauldron’.
“If we can't see these changes happening, then promote less training and more games, have similar time frame for the W-League season if you want, but add mid-week games.
“Our current training methods are killing us.”
Peters has also long advocated coaches allowing players to think for themselves and immerse themselves into the game, rather than be over-coached, which she argues promotes creative thinking.
“Coaches shutting up would be great! We learn to make decisions by making decisions, not following directions.
“This playing group has been playing together for a long time, but have spent more time having to listen to one person’s voice on the sideline rather than read each other’s behaviour on it.
“There’s no time to waste, Europe is flying past us with their 100s of years of knowing the game, we need a turbo charge of Football iQ or risk embarrassment at our own World Cup.”
Australia’s record against European opponents isn’t for good reading. Peters believes our current world ranking of seventh is misleading.
“Spain was 12th and they convincingly beat the Dutch last week.
“Belgium (currently 17th) is another sleeping giant. Portugal (30th), we lost to them three years ago under Alen Stajcic in the Algarve Cup, we’ve always struggled against European teams.
“There are 10 teams that are better than us and are only improving, 2023 is looking concerning.”
Australia will find out their opponents for the Tokyo Olympics next week, with the Games to be held in July.
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