Who Is Walter Pless?

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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I was listening to the BBC the other day while driving back from Triabunna and they had a fascinating item on their “World Football” program.

It was about Sporting Lisbon’s state-of-the-art football academy, situated just outside Lisbon.

It made me think about some of the recent threads on this blog about our own Tasmanian Institute of Sport and about the two players who are on offer to local clubs. This issue has caused quite some debate.

The Sporting Lisbon Football Academy has produced the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani.

But, the staff at the academy are realists, and they indicated as much in the interviews with the BBC journalist presenting the program.

The young players at the academy also had their feet on the ground and knew exactly what lay ahead of them - 40 hours of schooling per week at the local school down the road, in addition to their footballing education.

They lived in dormitories on the second floor of the main academy building, while classrooms, gyms and treatment rooms were located on the ground floor.

Any damage occurring in the dormitories had to be paid for by the young players attending the academy.

Anyone who skipped classes was punished with a week spent helping in the laundry, or other such chores.

Anyone sent off in an academy game was docked 30 per cent of their pay.

The head coach said the task of the academy was to produce well-rounded individuals who were prepared for life in football and in the outside world.

He said of a class of 20 players, only two or three would make it as professionals at the highest level. It was important, therefore, to give the kids a foundation for life outside the sport.

He recounted a couple of stories to the journalist which really put things into perspective.

He showed him a team photo of a decade or more ago and pointed out the 12-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo in the line-up.

Then he pointed out the youngster standing next to Ronaldo and said that this boy had been a much better player than Ronaldo at the time and showed much more promise.

And where is that youngster now, while Ronaldo is earning millions with Real Madrid? He is a waiter in a restaurant in the south of Portugal.

The other story was about three of the academy’s most promising youngsters who were coveted by Chelsea some years ago. Two of them went to Chelsea and the other refused to move.

The one who refused to move is now playing with Hapoel Tel Aviv in the Israeli top flight, which is quite a respectable level of football and includes European Championship football.

The two who went to Chelsea are now playing in Portugal’s third division.

Salutary lessons all, don’t you think, about modern football?

There is no emphasis on winning at the Sporting Lisbon Academy of Football. The aim, as stated earlier, is to produce well-rounded individuals, some of whom will be top footballers.

Some of the youngsters interviewed said that when they returned to the academy after a game, none of the staff asked whether they had won.

They asked questions such as: “Did you play well?” “How did the team play?”

Only after that did they sometimes ask about whether the game was won.

The head coach at the academy said that no 11-a-side games were ever played in training. Eleven-a-side was strictly confined to competitive matches, and a 4-3-3 system was employed because he felt that was the best system to teach the requirements of the game.

The reason he gave for not playing any 11-a-side matches in training was that even the best players were only in contact with the ball in a 90-minute game for 2 minutes. In a 5-a-side match, there was much more ball contact by every player and therefore it was a far more valuable learning experience.

The next time you watch Cristiano Ronaldo or Nani in action for Real Madrid or Manchester United, respectively, or indeed, for Portugal, spare a thought for their former class mates at the Sporting Lisbon Football Academy.

They may well be watching them, too, and asking themselves what went wrong.


Photo: Lee Gillam probably has a tape of the game you want [PlessPix]

Have you ever recalled a game that you once saw on television and which you would just love to see again?

Or was it just an incident in a particular match that caught your eye and, with the passing of time, you would relish the opportunity to see it again?

Well, local soccer personality Lee Gillam may be the man to help you.

You see, he has 6,000 tapes or DVDs of games, with commentary mainly in English. And more are added to the collection each day.

“There are highlights and the old “Match of the Day” episodes,” Gillam said. “They still come in via mail, from friends all over the world.”

It all started in the 1980s and what could only be described as an obsession has continued until this day.

“It all started back in the 1980s, in the early 1980s, when I just loved to watch Liverpool Football Club and I just started to tape all their games,” Gillam said. “As the years went on, I just started keeping everything.

“It all came about through my love of soccer. I’d tape Liverpool and every FA Cup final.

“I’d even tape radio commentaries of Liverpool.

“Nowadays, I don’t record and keep everything. I’m very selective, unlike some collectors around the world who record absolutely everything.

“I’m selective in what I record. There’s Liverpool, in particular, and Cup Finals, European Champions League games and World Cup games.”

Knowledge of his huge library has spread far and wide and has been a boon to some former English professional players.

Like many players, they don’t become interested in documenting their careers until later in life, when it is often difficult to retrieve information, including footage of their games.

“I’ve had contact with Alan Devonshire, the former West Ham and England player,” said Gillam.

“He found out that I had the DVD of his game against Australia at the MCG in 1980 and I was able to help him out.

“Another FA Cup player, Graham Moseley, from Brighton and Hove Albion in 1983, found out I had video of him in the FA Cup semi-final of 1983 and he got in touch and I was able to provide him with a tape.

“I’m going back to England soon and I hope to catch up with these players.”

Does Gillam have any favourite games or programs?

“My preference is always ‘Match of the Day’ or ‘The Big Match’ highlights from England,” he said.

“When I get deliveries of 30 or 40 or 100 DVDs in the mail, it’s always those ones that I look for.

“I really like ‘Match of the Day’ because it reminds me of my childhood.

“My collection consists of a mixture of whole games and highlights.

“When it comes to Cup Finals, you’ve really got to have the whole game.

“But, I love my highlights and ‘Match of the Day’ from when I was a kid. All those memories.

“And, there’s more time to watch highlights [than whole games] as they only go for 30 or 40 minutes.”

And how has Gillam coped with advances in technology?

“I’m still transferring video tapes to DVD,” he explained.

“I got my video recorder in about 2004. It’s now 2010 and I’ve still got a few boxes with tapes I haven’t changed over yet.”

Gillam, who is 44, is certainly passionate about football and always loved to play the game.

He has a long association with the local game as a player.

He played for Eastern Suburbs, Clarence, Rapid, Caledonians, Nelson United, Taroona and Kingborough.

He started as a goalkeeper, but eventually felt he was too small and so became quite an accomplished striker. He has even played as a defender.

This past season, he watched mainly Division One games locally and is tempted to make a comeback, possibly in the lower social leagues.







Photos (Top to Bottom): George Arnott Medal winner Marchello Marchioli with partner Anna Maria Filip; Kingborough President Brian Dale presents his award to Kate Churchill; Ian Cannon receives his Division 3 Award from Brian Dale; David Leamey was the most promising young player playing seniors; Robbie New received life membership; Madi Iseli won the Zoe Nolan Medal [Photos courtesy of Kingborough Lions United]

Marcello Marchioli won Kingborough Lions United’s George Arnott Medal at the club’s trophy night recently.

It was the 21-year-old midfielder’s second consecutive win.

Marchioli was the club’s top scorer and also represented Tasmania against the Central Coast Mariners.

He also took out the club’s Players’ Player-of-the-Year Award, so it was a momentous season for Marchioli.

Kingborough women’s player Madi Iseli won the Zoe Nolan Medal, with new recruit Cassie deVries being the runner-up.

In the men’s Reserves, defender Tim Polmear and striker Liam Brown shared the Bernie Siggins Award.

Colin Hughes won the Reserves’ Players’ Player-of-the-Year Award, while Chris Iseli took out that award for the Under-19s.

Robbie New received life membership from Kingborough Lions United in recognition of his long playing career and off-field work as a major sponsor for the club.

Kingborough Lions United president Brian Dale also rewarded Kate Churchill for her work in the kiosk this year, and Euan and Eddie Rodgers were awarded the Laurie Harvey (Outstanding Club Person) and Mike Perrin (Outstanding Club Service) awards, respectively.

Pete While was also recognised for his lengthy contribution to KLUSC with a Club Service Award.

Other playing award winners on the night included: Dave Leamey (Most Outstanding Youth playing Seniors), Joe Davis (Under 19’s Coach’s Award), Dave Hodgson (Div 2 Players’ Player-of-the-Year), Seb Gore (Div 2 Most Improved), Scott Pepper and Ian Cannon (Div 3 Best & Fairest), while Cannon also won the Players’ Player-of-the-Year Award; Bradley Anderson (Div 4 players’ player), Bryan Bready (Div 4 Coach’s Award), Georgia James (Women’s Premier Reserves Players’ Player), Charlotte Brown (Women’s Premier Reserves Coach’s Award) and Wayne Quinn (The Finishing Touch Club Leading Goalscorer).

Kingborough also thanked all their volunteers throughout the year, especially: John Fox, Bernie Siggins, Jason Wicks, Kathy Norris, George Harms and Tim McConnon.

KLUSC are set to announce their coaching appointments and pre-season information in the next week or two.

Perth Glory 0-3 Sydney FC

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Sydney FC won their first game of the A-League season when they beat Perth Glory 3-0 away at NIB Stadium in Perth tonight.

Perth stay 8th on the ladder and Sydney are still last, but just a point adrift of second-last Newcastle Jets.

It was Perth’s sixth straight loss and their third in a row at home, while for Sydney, it was their first clean sheet of the season.

The fact that possession does not mean everything was made quite clear in this game, with Perth having 56 per cent of possession and still losing by a three-goal margin.

Perth had the first chance of the game when Michael Baird beat Sydney keeper Ivan Necevski to a right-wing cross but headed wide.

Two minutes later, Shannon Cole’s free-kick for Sydney was turned wide by a diving Perth keeper Aleks Vrteski.

Bruno Cazarine, Sydney’s Brazilian import, put the visitors ahead in the 25th minute, outjumping Scott Neville at the far post following Byun Sung-Hwan’s free-kick from deep on the right and heading past Vrteski.

Alex Brosque made it 2-0 in the 53rd minute. Terry McFlynn won the ball in midfield and released Cole down the left, and his cross almost found Cazarine. The ball was only partially cleared and rolled back for Brosque to smash home with his trusty left foot.

Eight minutes from the end, it was 3-0 as Cazarine gained possession in his own half and ran down the left before beating Jamie Coyne and firing low past Vrteski and inside the far right-hand post from inside the box.

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Perth Glory: Vrteski - Neville, Coyne, Harnwell, Howarth - Pellegrini (Pearson 55), Burns, McGarry - Jelic (Skorich 73), Fowler, Baird (Sterjovski 54) [Substitute not used: Velaphi]

Booked: Pellegrini 22, Burns 43, Baird 54, Sterjovski 90+3

Sydney FC: Necevski - Cole, Kelleer, Foxe, Byun Sung-Hwan (Jamieson 83) - McFlynn, Grant - Moriyasu (Ryall 83), Carle (Bridge 62), Brosque - Cazarine [Substitute not used: Reddy]

Booked: Byun Sung-Hwan 12, Carle 32

Goals: Cazarine 25, 82, Brosque 53

Ref: B Williams