Learning the ropes as coach
FORMER Goonellabah soccer player Paul Foster is happy to serve out his apprenticeship as a youth coach before contemplating a gig at an A-League club.
Foster recently joined Paul Okon as an assistant with the national team taking part in the Australian Youth Olympic Festival in Sydney.
The largely unheralded youth team, made up mainly of players aged about 17, made it all the way to the gold medal play-off where they were soundly beaten by the United States 5-0.
But along the way the Aussies managed to beat China 7-1 and fought out a 2-all draw with Chile.
“Given that we were only able to put the team together four days before the tournament began, the boys did really well to apply themselves,” Foster said.
“It was the first time that group had played at a national team level and in many ways they were naive in what they were expected to say and do.
“We got them from State institutes all over Australia ... and basically they are the talent pool that will become the next Under-20 national team.”
Foster said he had learned a great deal from the experience and was set to continue that education as he entered another year as an assistant coach at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra.
He's also gaining an insight into the Dutch system under AIS head coach Jan Versleijen.
“The Dutch system is very popular around the world because it exports really well,” he said.
“It's reasonably easy to take to a new country and implement, and the Dutch continue to produce great teams and individually brilliant players.”
Foster said he was happy to bide his time and soak up as much knowledge as he could as an assistant before striking out into a head coaching role.
“I'd like to do an A-League position at some point, but the AIS is the best place to get an education on the coaching side,” he said.
“When I feel ready to make that move, I want it to be the correct opportunity, because when I do make that move I want it to be successful.”
Foster is hoping to reunite with his two brothers, Craig and Stephen, to play for Goonellabah against Workers in the Corey New Cup pre-season game in Lismore next month.