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Ormer has succeeded but is its shell crumbling?

Inside Track | Published:

IT’S a sorry tale all-round.

Respected football coach slams GFA and accuses it of being toxic and manipulating the grassroots game.

Schoolboy stars pull out of Star Trophy contention as some form of protest.

Just what is this all about?

Is it about a football club – Ormer – on the slide and keen to have one final hurrah at the enemy’s expense, the GFA stamping on a rival or merely a case of assumptions based upon splitting hairs over the English Dictionary as to what represents a ban and what is a cooling-off period.

You make your mind up, because I am having trouble.

Chris Archer is a football coach who dates back to the GFA days of Paul Mooney as development officer.

He now specialises in futsal and is an unknown to me. Wouldn’t know him if he was standing in front of me.

But the man is angry, sufficiently to write to the paper and say some stern things about the ruling body’s approach to youth football.

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Archer, owner/founder of ILHA Futebol Academy, contacted Inside Track as a result of last week’s exposé of the GFA introducing six-month ‘cooling of periods; for players involved with Ormer FC junior futsal sides’.

Archer says he set up IFA in September 2010 to offer a holistic coaching experience, with emphasis on developing strong emotional intelligence and technical skills through the games of futsal, street football and Total Football methodology, as inspired by AFC Ajax and Johan Cruyff.

Previous to that he was a Centre of Excellence head coach for both the GFA and then Bristol City FC and in that period of developing local players, he headed up the U12 age group with the likes of Guernsey FC duo Thomas Dodds and Jordan Kelly emerging within the group.

‘The U12 Guernsey team was the only academy side to beat Bristol City thanks to the futsal and small-sided philosophy that I embedded into the players,’ he said.

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‘I am personally saddened that the grassroots game is manipulated in such a manner. This is truly toxic and detrimental to the mental and physical development of the children on Guernsey,’ he told Inside Track.

Archer has called on the Football Association in England to intervene after Inside Track revealed last week that players will, in effect, be forced to leave Ormer in order to be eligible for U16 island age-group representation.

The issue arose in the summer when an Ormer side entered the Southampton Cup.

This was a mix of 14s/15s playing and training for a 11v11 cup at the end of July, when there was no GFA Academy or tours – totally outside of season.

They were simply youngsters wanting to play football in a high profile competition to challenge themselves and to have some fun along the way.

Not good enough for the GFA, it seems.

The GFA stance would appear to be that if you represent Ormer in any form of football you will need a six-month cooling-off period from the high-profile GFA Academy from which all the evidence suggests island representative teams are chosen from.

And if you are ‘cooling off’ you obviously can’t train with the Academy.

Archer told Inside Track: ‘Sport is undoubtedly the most powerful tool to influence children, we use it to excite, engage, stimulate and give hope.

‘So why would anyone want the children to cool off and simply go without?

‘It is time to think different before the children simply walk away and become grassed off with the beautiful game.’

Archer’s pedigree in football coaching stacks up, although it would seem he has now given up the ghost in Guernsey.

On the IFA website home page his coaching carries a testament from Bristol City which, of course, has very close links to both Guernsey FC and the GFA.

That testament reads: ‘Chris Archer has been instrumental in his coaching and his recommendation of four boys who have travelled from Guernsey to Bristol City for training and the signing of one player. Chris is well organised and his talent identification skills are excellent,’ wrote Trevor Challis, head of schoolboy and youth recruitment at the Championship club.

Now, I expect that it is a fairly old testament, but nevertheless one that is positive and I have no evidence that it is unworthy.

Archer says he has assisted with the ongoing development of children both at amateur and professional status.

In reference to his futsal business he said: ‘IFA never publish success stories but those who know our work are well aware of the contributions that the small-sided game can truly offer.

‘Throughout my professional career, I have developed strong links with various professional clubs for the benefit of the children on Guernsey, with AFC Ajax visiting on two separate occasions to work with the children on Guernsey.’

But what about Ormer?

Are they on their last legs as some evidence suggests they are.

They have done a sterling job these past few seasons in both coaching and providing a match programme that has enhanced players.

But in recent times, they have lost numbers and admit to having to utilise players from far afield – Isle of Wight, Jersey and Bahrain – to play in tournaments.

Do they want their cake and eat it? Possibly.

Are they guilty of playing politics with their boys’ future?

I will leave you to judge that.

SHOULD Herne Bay get a draw at home to title favourites Cray Wanderers next Saturday, Guernsey FC will slip to the foot of the Bostik South East table on goal difference.

Make no mistake, the Green Lions, who don’t play till next Sunday, are in a spot of bother and even though we are only halfway through October, a mere quarter of the way through the campaign, the signs are worrying.

The rebuild has worrying cracks although, to the squad’s credit, there appears to be no signs of a lack of commitment.

But, more than at any time in the club’s young history, the cupboard is bare.

Where, for instance, can Tony Vance find a decent defensive full-back of any sort?

Where is the holding midfield player of size and strength?

Where are the goals coming from?

It’s a great concern, I’m sure to Tony Vance and co., as there are no easy solutions strutting their stuff in the Priaulx League and demonstrating the higher levels of commitment that GFC demands of all its players.

Nor does the U18s pool provide any quick solutions.

There is, perhaps, a wealth of real talent in the U16s and U15s, ironically much of it honed by the Ormer set-up, but they are years away from being of the necessary level.

Therefore, the only solution is for GFC to review its operations and look to go the Raiders route and bring in proven talent.

Otherwise, I fear they may be heading back to the Combined Counties.

IT’S saddening to hear of the death of Derek ‘Campy’ Trustum.

The winner of three Muratti caps in the late Fifties ‘Campy’ was a Vale Rec man through and through and when he had stopped playing was, for many years, sponge man and trainer at the Corbet Field club during a long spell of its dominant period.

His commitment to sport included as a solid and faithful wicket-keeper for Rovers when they, too, were dominant in the Evening League and always keen to put something back was a well-respected referee and cricket umpire. A top man.

Rob Batiste

By Rob Batiste
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