Bluebirds under-6 player Jack Kelly loves his football and is a third generation player at the club.
Bluebirds under-6 player Jack Kelly loves his football and is a third generation player at the club. Contributed

Cougars prowl for cubs talent

LOOK out Central Queensland as the regional development officer Joe Fenech sees the changes he is starting as a renaissance of local football.

Since his arrival in Central Queensland less than two months ago Fenech has been active meeting people in the sport and looking at ways to make the pathway from junior levels to the elite senior levels easier to identify and more accessible.

One guarantee Fenech can provide is he will be highly visible as he will be out and about viewing matches around the region.

In Rockhampton Fenech is happy his task has been made a little easier as junior matches are played at a central venue.

"Norbridge Park is a facility which, from my perspective, is glorious," he said. "One venue where you can get to talk to players, coaches and parents."

When Fenech arrived in CQ he emphasised the importance of providing a pathway for players and the requirement to have suitable coaches working with junior players through all age groups.

Step one in the pathway is to cater for Squirts (4-6 years) and prepare them for small sided games then see them ready to play on the big pitches when they reach the age of 12 years.

Fenech plans to give his Squirts program an identity. "I intend to introduce the Cougars Cubs," he said. "Come January I will have put together 40 size three footballs, rucksacks and shirts."

Fenech plans to have 10 Friday evening sessions for his Cougars Cubs, each lasting about 40 minutes, providing an introduction to the sport where youngsters get the chance to feel comfortable with a football while learning co-ordination skills.

An incentive for youngsters completing the 10 sessions will be receiving the balls, rucksacks and shirts. The master coach will not look to staff the sessions on his own and plans to call on senior Cougars players to assist.

Another regular will be the Cougars mascot as Fenech wants to promote the region's number one side as a goal for players wanting to reach higher levels in the sport.

"I see the Cubs increasing the player base locally and they will be encouraged to sign (when old enough) with local clubs," he said.

Fenech sees player transition to the Cougars as continuity in the sport and not as a rivalry between the clubs and the Cougars.

Following the Squirts, young players are with their clubs playing small sided games and Fenech sees this time with the clubs as vital in preparing them for the larger version of the game on full size pitches.

"I want to work with coaches at clubs on coaching directions for these age groups," he said. "The under-12s will never have been better prepared for playing on a big pitch."

With the best possible coaching it will assist in the identification process of elite players of 11 years of age for selection for places in the JPL.

Fenech has announced his staff for the Central Queensland Cougars in 2012.

He sees the Cougars as more than just a team competing in State League. Assistant with the senior team is Gary Skinner while Richie Buckle is the goalkeeping coach and team manager is former Cougars player Danny Cox.

Under 14s will be coached by Mark Skelhorn and Jason Williams while David Telford and Gary Larson are the men in charge of the under 13s. The under 12s will be coached by Gordon McDonald and Nathan Muir.

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