However with this first blog I wanted to update you all on a few things. There's been a little bit of downtime with the mid-season break and players and staff going on holiday but the season starts back on July 29h for the SWPL side and a week later for the youths at U15/17 and our Reserves. As ever, lots of activity at the Accies!
One of the most pivotal events during the break however was the Club and Coach Development conferences run by the SFA. We as a club are generally very well represented by willing volunteers however the tone of these conferences has changed, in my view for the better.
In my albeit limited experience, the SFA themes tended to be very much "what can the association DO for you, the clubs and coaches?” Over time, and in the 9 months I have been at Accies the tone has shifted remarkably to "How can we ENABLE you to reach where you want your club to reach?". This is a refreshing and necessary change and will allow those clubs wanting to excel and drive (like ourselves!) to go where we want to individually, whereas previously a lot of movement was done en masse and incrementally. The context of the football scene at the time though did necessitate such incremental movement, but a little more on that later.
What does this mean for us as a club? In the first instance, a lot of paperwork as we go for a UEFA Elite Club Licensing audit that will determine where we sit in the scheme of clubs classed as Gold, Silver, Bronze and Entry. Each level carries with it various financial implications from the evidence-based criteria but it also allows us to have an in-house review session of all policies, procedures, staff qualifications etc etc as well as those exciting-but-not-quite-upon-us-yet strategic future plans.
My own interest and responsibility will lie with the marketing and media plan but I hope the Gaffer, Kevin Murphy, will allow me to stay involved with the SWPL side if responsibilities and committments allow. It's such an exciting time to be involved as the new signings on and off the pitch will have such a positive impact in both the second half of the 2012 season and into next year.
It's probably as good a time (as any!) to reflect slightly on what the women's football landscape looked like a few years back vs. the current picture. Anna Signeul (National Coach) and Sheila Begbie (Head of Girls & Women's Football) at the SFA have been pivotal in turning round the game across the 3 development strands of Player, Coach and Club. The player development can be seen in how competitive our national teams are at youth levels with the senior team on the cusp of qualifying for the Euros in 2013. Coach Development has seen numerous female only courses as well as access for club coaches in the women's game to the top levels and we can proudly include Kevin Murphy in this bracket as he sat the UEFA A licence course with numerous ex-pros earlier this year.
Club Development has been a far more long term thing to achieve and it's difficult to see and end point, therefore it's more of a "vision" as opposed to a finite goal. Generally "teams" form before "clubs" and to attract players and volunteers to coach/administer you generally need to have more than one team and therefore a player pathway developed and contained within a "development philosophy" of sorts. The work Sheila and Anna have done over the last 5 years has upskilled and supported teams/clubs/coaches to the point whereby clubs themselves are tackling the age old problem of "facilities" and access to suitable facilities across a local authority spectrum.
I am personally very excited about the journey this Elite Club licence will take us on both on the playing and non-playing side. From a personal point of view it will be a massive learning curve for me but I am absolutely committed and motivated to making everything at Accies a success.
As is everyone else, that's why it's the best place to be!