Mulvey Backs NPL Pathway
Brisbane Roar head coach Mike Mulvey believes the National Premier Leagues is forging a crucial link between the A-League club and Queensland’s elite footballers.
Mulvey spoke glowingly of the league and its talented pool of players while conducting a Roar training session at Wolter Park, home ground of NPL side Moreton Bay United Jets.
Undertaking his first pre-season with the club, Mulvey said the pathway to the country’s top flight was clearer now for aspiring professional footballers with the advent of the NPL.
“I’ve been (in Queensland football) since 1982 and I’ve seen many guises of competitions – whether it’s a state league or a Brisbane league or what have you,” Mulvey explained.
“It’s really important that the NPL takes off because the A-League itself is only ten teams and we need an underpinning programme so that there’s more opportunities to play football at a high level which means there’s more opportunity for kids coming through. The NPL is a very important factor in that.”
Mulvey has been a keen observer of the progress of the new competition and can be regularly seen in the grandstands at NPL matches with an eye on identifying new talent for the Roar first team and youth programmes.
“I enjoy coming out to watch (NPL games) and it’s not just to watch, it’s actually to scout players,” Mulvey said.
“We’re looking and we’ve invited some players in from some teams from within the NPL competition and we will continue to do that.”
Roar have recently invited several of the NPL’s top talent to train with the first team squad in pre-season including Nico Bechar from Sunshine Coast Fire, Antonio Murray from Brisbane City and Palm Beach’s Chris Lucas and Jarrod Kyle.
Olympic FC’s dynamic winger Jai Ingham also spent time training with the Roar’s National Youth League squad earlier this month.
“We’ve made an offer to Nico Bechar and Antonio Murray to come in and have a run with us and see how they fit in with us and vice versa. They impressed in some of the games we’ve had watched. There’s also a couple of boys we’ve invited in from Palm Beach as well and they’ve been training with us for the past few weeks.”
Mulvey said he and his coaching staff see the NPL has a talent pool worthy of two-time champion club’s attentions.
“Those players are the first but they won’t be the last. We’ll keep inviting players in because it’s important that the players are able to come in and recognise the level of intensity, the lack of space and the lack of time that you have at a high level so that it helps them improve.”
Mulvey remains mindful that the jump from NPL to A-League can be a big adjustment for the state’s aspiring professional footballers.
“Because the A-League has got quicker, faster and stronger and more technically adept, it’s a big challenge for any player coming from the NPL. That’s why it’s important that we recognise who the players are, have a database and invite the players in periodically to train with us.”
Mulvey however said the processes were in place to overcome what he terms a “training deficit” between the two competitions, saying the NPL is “moving in the right direction.”
“The normal state league goes for six months then they have time off and they come back three or four months later. Whereas an A-League player trains for 48 weeks of the year,” Mulvey explained.
“All the NPL clubs have technical directors now and coaches who are implementing these programmes and improving the quality.”
“It’s not going to happen overnight and it needs time to bed-in, but once its bedded-in there will be kids coming through who recognise that there is a pathway from local league youth development programmes to the NPL and then on to the A-League.”
Brisbane Roar is committed to forging a link with NPL clubs and their local communities, the open training session at Wolter Park forms part of the community engagement programmes Roar plans to roll out across the whole of Queensland.
“We recognise our responsibility as an A-League club to promote the game state wide. We’ll be taking games across the state in preseason.”
“It’s a really important aspect because all the young kids out there need to understand that there’s a pathway and the pathway starts from a professional perspective with Brisbane Roar.”
“So what we want to do is let the people know this is their team. We are based in Brisbane but we are Queensland team as well. We want everyone to understand that because we truly believe it.”
Roar have scheduled a series of pre-season fixtures against NPL opposition as part of their preseason and Mulvey stated those games would be a chance for NPL players to impress the Roar coaching staff.
“We want to engage with the community, we want to get games under the belt in preparation for the A-league and we want to give the opportunity to NPL players to impress and say, ‘this is what I can do are you interested in me’”
“It may not be that we sign them now, but we keep an eye on them and maybe bring them into our training with a view to next year.”
Details for Brisbane Roar’s pre-season matches against NPL clubs are:
Brisbane City v Brisbane Roar
Wednesday, 31 July at 7pm
Spencer Park, Newmarket
Brisbane Strikers v Brisbane Roar
Wednesday, 7 August at 7pm
Perry Park, Albion
Palm Beach Sharks v Brisbane Roar
Tuesday, 20 August at 7pm
Mallawa Drive Park, Palm Beach
Western Pride v Brisbane Roar
Wednesday, 18 September at 3.15pm
Toowoomba Grammar School, Toowoomba
Words and Image: Michael Flynn (Football Queensland)