Thursday 19 January 2012
Swansea City manager Brendan Rodgers has paid tribute to the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) and the work the Premier League is doing to improve youth development in the game.
Rodgers was speaking at the start of a two-day conference which has seen more than 100 coaches from around the country gather together to discuss the EPPP, which is due to get under way in July in time for the 2012-13 season.
The EPPP - the result of consultation between the Premier League and its clubs, representatives of the Football League, Football Association and other key football stakeholders - is a long-term strategy designed to take Premier League youth development to the next level.
"Ged has done fantastic work with the EPPP and he's trying to make it the finished article"
- Brendan Rodgers
Learn about the EPPP by clicking on this link
Premier League director of youth Ged Roddy will be leading the two-day conference, and Rodgers - who started his coaching career by teaching five-year-old kids - believes the changes are vital for football's future.
"Obviously Ged has done a lot of fantastic work with the EPPP and he's here now trying to make it the finished article," Rodgers told premierleague.com.
"Conferences like this are great because they bring together a group of really talented guys, there's no doubt that there are a raft of gifted coaches as well as players in this country.
"The most important two things in the development of coaches that they pass down to the players are opportunity and the things they are taught.
"We must keep driving the quality and standard of training facilities and training grounds and giving the right players the right chances, and hopefully the EPPP will enable that to happen.
"It's very important to have a vision and a philosophy. Many clubs have had that, and many international federations too. It's very important for the good of our game.
"We must realise that British kids are born as good technically as kids from anywhere in the world, be that Spain or Holland. It's then down to what they are taught."
The EPPP has been two years in the making, and the central idea behind the project is to produce more and better home grown players, to be the "world's best" in youth development.
Having been voted in by Football League clubs in October, the next stage for the EPPP is when the new rules are presented to Premier League shareholders in February, before an independent standards organisation classification of clubs' academies in March.
"We have a massive opportunity, but that comes down to what we do next"
- Ged Roddy
In July, the EPPP is set to begin, and Roddy is under no illusions as to the size of the task that awaits him and the clubs in making sure the plan is a success.
"This has the potential to be the biggest step change for youth coaching for many, many years," Roddy told premierleague.com.
"But that comes down to what we do next. We have prepared the ground for the last two years, and now we need the coaches at this conference to go out and, I hope, do their jobs, or do them more effectively, with better resources and so on.
"So I think we have a massive opportunity, and time will tell whether this was only a moment, or the greatest moment. I'd like to think it'll be the latter, but it depends on what we do next.
"We've got some big challenges ahead, all of us. Every club is thinking deeply about how this plan impacts on them and what they can do to affect it and influence it and gain by it too, because everyone wants the next great player to pull on their club's shirt."
Wednesday and Thursday's conference will be the last time Roddy and the coaches get together before the EPPP is implemented, and he says it is vital that their needs are met.
The coaches come from all three categories - Foundation (9-11 years), Youth Development (12-16 years) and Professional Development (17-21 years), with one coach from each of the clubs' three categories involved.
"These are the coaches that have helped to shape the plan and now they are going to lead its delivery," added Roddy. "This is a great chance for them to come out of their club for a couple of days, take a step back and think about what they're doing.
"For the EPPP to be more than just something on a piece of paper, we need these guys to understand it inside out, to live it and to dream it and buy into it, maybe shape it further, and this gives them that opportunity.
"Many of these coaches are humble people. They work in the background and their motivation isn't celebrity status or anything like that - but that doesn't mean they are not master coaches in their own right.
"Part of this is to give a nod and a wink to say 'we know how important you are to the future of the game in this country and we know without you we don't have the stars of the future, we don't have a Premier League which is the envy of the globe.'"