The Game They Play In Heaven guides The Beautiful Game

by Ashley Morrison on May 24, 2011

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Wallabies coach Robbie Deans was in Perth the same weekend that Perth Glory’s former Dutch international Victor Sikora made his debut in the WA State League for Floreat Athena.
No doubt you will be asking what the connection between these two events is.

First of all let me remind you that Victor Sikora signed a new two-year deal at the end of season 2009/10. The coach at the time had told the club to sign him for one year and keep him hungry for a second year. Unfortunately for all concerned in season 20010/11 he made just one appearance for 17 minutes as a substitute, having been sidelined for most of the year with a hip injury. An injury that originally was believed could bring an end to his career. He sought a second opinion, which resulted in a second operation which fixed the problem and got him back on the park. He is however extremely short of football hence his loan deal to State League side Floreat Athena.

When in Perth, Robbie Deans stated that Rugby’s point of difference between the codes is that the “elite level maintains contact with the club sides.”

An example of what he means is every Western Force player is allocated a club in the WA State Rugby competition that they will play for if not selected by the Force. Even if they are a regular first team player they are expected to go and follow that club when they can and also go down and be seen at the club’s training. The same applies around the country.

Obviously with football at the elite level being a largely summer sport, its moons don’t align with the grassroots winter game . However by pairing players with teams around the metro area, the Perth Glory — and clubs for that matter — may be able to bridge the current divide between them and the local clubs.
Also as is the case in point with Sikora, the state league clubs will be more willing to take on an elite player and help him gain match fitness. It also has the added advantage of hopefully boosting their crowd figures.

As Rob Baan and Han Berger have both stated, we do not play enough football in Australia. That is frustrating as an amateur or semi professional, but must be even worse if you are a contracted A-League player. As a professional, you want to be playing football. With the A-League being such a short season, the best you can hope for is 30 games in six months, which is not enough to help you go to the next level and play in Europe.

A relationship between the state league clubs and their A-League affiliate to enable squad players extra games has to be a winner for all concerned.

Former Glory owner Nick Tana tried a similar arrangement with the players which back-fired, in the main, due to the egos of one or two players who felt too good to play at that level, and who refused to do what the coaches asked of them. Structured properly, however, it can work as Rugby has shown.
Sikora could be a great example of what such an arrangement can do for all concerned. It could see the elite level maintain contact with the clubs. His influence and experience is sure to rub off on the younger players and that will in turn benefit the game, the club, and maybe even ultimately the Glory, as they look to sign more local players. Turns out The Game They Play In Heaven can teach a thing or two to The Beautiful Game.