Who Is Walter Pless?


A teacher by profession, but is now in his 38th year as a football writer. Has written for "Soccer Action" (Melbourne), "Australian Soccer Weekly" (Sydney) and "World Soccer" (London), as well as for several Tasmanian newspapers. Currently contributing to "Goal!Weekly" in Melbourne and the Australian magazine "Soccer International". Played for Croatia-Glenorchy, Caledonians, Metro, Rapid and University in Tasmania, as well as in the United States of America. Coached University, Metro and Croatia-Glenorchy.

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Central Coast Mariners moved up a place to third on the A-League ladder despite being held to a goalless draw at home at Blue Tongue Stadium in Gosford tonight by fifth-ranked Perth Glory.

There have been five scoreless draws in the A-League this season and the Mariners have been involved in four of these.

Perth had slightly the better of possession, but it was a dull, uninspiring match before a crowd of 7,857.

The visitors also had the better of the chances, but both sides were guilty of poor passing in the final third.

Viktor Sikora missed a great chance for Perth in the 19th minute when he volleyed Mile Sterjovski’s right-wing cross over the bar from 12 metres.

Adam Kwasnik had the ball in the net for the Mariners after a free-kick in the 25th minute, but the effort was disallowed because of off-side.

With four minutes of the first half remaining, Sterjovski cracked a superb right-foot curling shot against Danny Vukovic’s right-hand post, but the ball came back into play and was cleared by the Mariners defence.

Three minutes after the break, Nik Mrdja squandered an excellent opening from a pass by Kwasnik.

In the 51st minute, Sterjovski’s left-wing cross found Adriano Pellegrino at the far post, but his tame header was smothered by Vukovic.

Perth continued to go for the win and, in the 67th minute, a Branko Jelic pass put Sikora clear on the right, but Vukovic just got a foot to the shot and deflected the ball wide of the far post for a corner.

The Mariners’ best chance came five minutes from the end when substitute Nicky Travis crossed towards the far post from the left, but Matt Simon headed an easy chance wide from close range.

The game ended with Sikora shooting wide for Perth and Ahmad Elrich driving just over the bar for the Mariners.

Mariners captain Alex Wilkinson was playing his 100th game for the club.

“We had the better of the first half-hour and we retained possession, but we didn’t create too many chances,” Wilkinson said.

“The last sort of bit of the first half we lost it and let Glory back into the game.

“In the second half, we sort of huffed and puffed but didn’t create too much, although we could have stolen it there at the end.

“A bit disappointed overall.

“Their centre-backs are both very experienced players but, on the other hand, we didn’t keep the ball well enough up front.

“When you can’t keep the ball, you’re not going to create chances and that’s probably what happened tonight.”

Perth’s Mile Sterjovski, who received a yellow card in the match, said: “We knew it was going to be a difficult game and that they’ve got the best defence in the league.

“We knew it was going to be hard to crack them, but I thought we put in a good effort and came away with a good point.

“I think we’re growing in confidence when we come away and, you know, we’re getting points.

“We’re looking forward to going on a bit of a run and I’m confident the boys can finish strongly at the end of the season.”

There is a new amended proposal doing the rounds to accommodate the Tasmanian Institute of Sport (TIS) in southern Tasmania’s top-flight football competition.

After some opposition was voiced to the proposal to have the TIS playing in the Premier League, it was suggested that the TIS could, perhaps, play in the Premier League Reserve competition.

Another proposal was that the TIS could play in a separate competition involving Premier League and Division One opponents and played in midweek.

This latest proposal, however, involves the formation of a ‘Super League’ next season, consisting of the eight Premier League clubs, the top three Division One clubs, and the TIS.

This means a 12-team competition and 22 matches in the south.

Division One would consist of the left-overs and there would be no promotion or relegation into or out of the top flight.

What, then, was the point of this past season’s on-field battles to avoid relegation or win promotion?

It was all for nought if this proposal is adopted.

I have asked these questions before, and I will ask them again.

What is the purpose of the top-flight competition?

Is it for the development of the TIS players, or is it the showcase for Tasmanian football?

I think it is the showcase for Tasmanian football.

There are already promising youngsters in the ranks of most of the top-flight teams.

They are benefiting from playing in the same team with more experienced players.

The TIS is comprised completely of young, developing players, and that is a different kettle of fish.

They will struggle in a senior competition.

It has been argued by proponents of the TIS playing in the top flight that Wayne Rooney was only 16 when he played for Everton in the English Premier League (EPL).

But, it is conveniently overlooked that Rooney was in a team comprised of older and more experienced players.

He was not in an Everton youth team playing in the EPL, so that argument does not hold water.

It would seem that the TIS tail is wagging the FFT dog in all this.

Common sense should prevail.

There is a place for the TIS in Tasmanian football, but it is not in the top flight. It is in the highest appropriate (my italics) competition.

If football is to be a credible sport in this State, then we need to ensure it has a top-flight competition (two competitions, in fact, if one includes the Northern Premier League) that is strong and competitive.

That precludes the inclusion of a youth side.

I have argued that a 10-team competition should have been retained and that condemning Taroona and Metro to the wilderness of Division One football was a mistake.

FFT went ahead with relegating Metro and Taroona, while University were axed at the end of the season just gone.

This was the way ahead, we were told by FFT. An eight-team top-flight competition will improve the standard of competition they said.

If this latest proposal to have a 12-team ‘Super League’ (while we’re at it, why not call it the “Super-Duper League”, or the “Uber League”) is adopted, FFT, and the game, will have little credibility in the eyes of the Tasmanian sporting public, and that includes more than just football fans.

The latest mantra being peddled by coach educators in Australia is that the secret to coaching is ‘no coaching’.

This is particularly so at the community and junior levels of coaching.

It’s bad enough at those levels, so I hope this flawed concept does not take hold at youth or senior levels because it spells disaster for our game and its players.

Tasmanian football seems to be embracing this concept and I fear where it will take us.

It may be worthwhile for some of those who are chanting this mantra to re-read Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Emperor’s New Clothes”.

As a teacher, I recall a similar move in education many years ago.

It went along the lines of teachers not needing to teach any more. Just immerse the kids in the right environment, we were told, and they will become independent learners.

The teacher was to be seen as a ‘facilitator of learning’ rather than as a fount of knowledge.

This approach led to ‘the baby being thrown out with the bath water’ and left many kids seriously lacking in reading, writing and mathematical skills.

A manifestation of this new philosophy was the ‘look and say’ method of teaching reading.

It replaced the ‘phonics’ method, which, most sensibly, drilled ‘word attack’ skills in children so that they could become independent readers and easily read new words when they encountered them.

Many of those taught under the ‘look and say’ method were stumped as soon as they tried to read a more difficult text.

Without a teacher or a good reader close at hand, they often could not read words they encountered for the first time.

The same applies to football.

The only time a ‘no coaching’ philosophy is appropriate is in a situation where you have someone who knows nothing about coaching placed in charge of a team.

They can probably do more harm than good by trying to regiment their kids and ‘coach’ them.

That’s where the maxim ‘just let them play’ is appropriate.

Usually, this situation arises when a parent or teacher has been put in charge of a school or club team and, despite knowing little about the game, they agree to take on the responsibilities because no-one else will do it.

In such cases, the best thing to do is to give the kids a ball and let them play and learn for themselves.

By varying the activities and size of the pitch, the best kids will, of course, show some development, but many of them will not.

It’s better than nothing. But, it has its limitations.

‘Over coaching’ can be just as bad as ‘no coaching’ because kids can be stifled and restricted by overbearing coaches.

But, there is no substitute for good coaching, which seeks to introduce just the right amount of intervention by the coach and which adds to kids’ understanding of the game and develops their skills without suffocating them and arresting their development.

A good coach knows how much guidance and how much intervention is required.

A good coach knows the importance of the so-called ‘three Rs’: routine, repetition and realism.

Kids need to have poor technique corrected at times, or bad habits acquired at a young age will persist and lead to problems later.

It has been said that if one were to give each of a dozen monkeys a typewriter (or a word processor), in a million years they would produce the complete works of Shakespeare.

Giving a group of novice players (that is, kids) a ball and letting them play within certain bounds and without ever intervening to correct things or to demonstrate a skill such as dribbling is a good analogy to the above.

You can, of course, alter the pitch or the number of players in the hope of improving things, but will it work?

It may, under an experienced mentor or coach, but not under a novice.

In a million years, the kids might actually become a team composed of individuals possessing all the required skills to play the game at a competent level.

But, the kids haven’t got a million years.

Of course, some will learn more quickly than others, particularly from their mistakes, but many of them won’t develop at all in a ‘no coaching’ regimen.

Coaching, except for those who know nothing about coaching, is not about ‘no coaching’.

It is about knowledge, and the application of that knowledge, at an appropriate time and in an appropriate manner so that learning takes place.

Enjoyment of the game will be a welcome by-product of such thoughtful coaching.

There is a place for a ‘no coaching’ philosophy in coaching, as I have outlined above.

But, if at all possible, it shouldn’t replace good coaching.

Geoff Freeman has been re-appointed as senior coach of Kingborough Lions United, but he will be joined by Tim Dale as co-coach for the 2010 Premier League season.

I guess that means they will be joint-coaches.

Freeman, who coached Christian United to the Division One title in 2005, has been with the Lions as a player and coach since 2006.

He has been in charge of the seniors for the past two seasons.

Dale was the 2006 Premier League coach-of-the-season and has been involved at the club since he was a junior.

“We are looking forward to the new season,” said Freeman.

“Pre Christmas sessions will be all about games and getting people back into the swing of things.

“It’s also a chance for new players to come and meet current players and coaches and check out the club.

“It’s always a positive atmosphere, with good weather and a nice surface to play on before a bit of hard work begins in the new year.”

Warren Iles will coach the Lions’ Premier League Reserves side and will be assisted by Chase McConnon.

Iles coached the reserves in 2006 and 2007, while McConnon had them last season.

Mick Trotter, known at the club as “The Master”, will again coach the under-19s.

Kingborough are hoping to re-enter the Women’s Premier League competition next season after two years in Division One.

John Fox has been re-appointed as women’s coach, while Martin Dunnington will be in charge of the second women’s side.

The club is also considering the possibility of fielding a third women’s side next season.

Women’s training will commence on Sunday,10 January 2010, while men’s pre-season will start in early January.

Small-sided games will be conducted for the eager beavers, starting on Wednesday, 2 December, and continuing every Wednesday from 6.30-8pm at the Sophia Street Oval at Calvin Secondary School.

Those interested should check out the Kingborough Lions website for further details.

The Lions will be holding their AGM at the Lightwood Park clubrooms on Sunday, 6 December, at 2.15pm.