Thursday, February 11, 2010

Muller proposes centralisation policy

Irish women’s coach Gene Muller has suggested, in an exclusive interview with the Belfast News Letter, a new ‘centralisation’ proposal could be implemented to aid Ireland’s bid to qualify for the 2012 Olympics.

The proposal would see the main Ireland panel centralised in Dublin from September for the build-up to the London qualifiers, taking in up to nine training sessions a week.

Speaking to the News Letter's Austin Hunter about the proposal, Muller said "We need the squad to train together for a year before the European Championships. We must increase our training frequency, volume and standard to give us a real chance."

The concept has recently been introduced in England with players linking up at Bisham Abbey while Muller points out that five of the world’s top ten sides currently pursue such a strategy.

"Centralisation is not an entirely new concept in Irish hockey - players have spent extended time together in the past. We have to do something unprecedented to get Ireland into the Olympics and I am very seriously considering centralisation as the way forward."

Speaking specifically about plans to relocate players from Ulster and Munster, he said that the plan requires the “buy-in” from players if it is succeed.

"We have to create an environment where players will want to centralise," he said. "We must give them informed choices; help them with study, work and accommodation. This must be managed logistically. And it will only happen if there is buy-in from the players - they are the primary stakeholders in all of this.

"There will be quality players it does not suit and there is no way I would exclude them from consideration for selection.”

Muller says the Irish Hockey Association is currently working out project timelines on centralisation and will carry out individual feasibility studies for each of the relevant players.

Ireland get their first shot at Olympic qualification at the 2011 European Championships where a top four place earns a place in London 2012.

Meanwhile, the IHA's core Irish Sports Council grant has been reduced from €270,908 in 2009 down to €260,071 for 2010 while the Women In Sport grant from the same organisation is down from €90,905 to €80,000.


Anonymous said...

I think it's a good idea.

For example Pro teams in athletics usually have a team house / HQ where the players have access to facilities for training off the pitch and get their accommodation free / supplemented and are in an environment where they can inspire and support each other off the pitch.

I think it would seriously need the buy-in of the players and help with work / study etc.

Only problem is that if its in Dublin they would realistically have to play with a club in Dublin and I'm sure other provinces / clubs would not be happy with this centralisation idea and losing players for a season or two.

I think we need to emulate the successful countries approaches.


Anonymous said...

These guys are dreaming could not see too many of the team that are working pack in their jobs.If they were pros you could do it but any other way is impossible.

Anonymous said...

don't think there's enough money in hockey to support the system...where will they work and live? who's gonna pay for that?

Anonymous said...

I think most people who hope to compete at the Olympics are dreamers and it is this dream and the sacrifices they make to get there that sets them apart from the rest of us who are interested in sport. With 4 qualifiers likely from Euro 2011 this represents our best chance of qualifying by gaining an upset result against one of the big 4 in the group and making a semi. I hope if the squads both men and women go down this road that it works for them and that they get to realise their dream of competing in an Olympic games. Would be more interested in solutions than raising all the why nots here.

Anonymous said...

yes it does require some "dream" style efforts to make this happen. My worry is that it might be absolutely ruinous for the game in Ulster and Munster and where does that leave us?

one big success and a sport without a soul. it's well documented that the 1988 Olympic win for GB did sweat FA to galvanise a new hockey playing public - maybe it would work the same way as the cricket with the win over Jamaica.

what countries btw other than England have centralised? my first guesses would be Oz (huge country), China (ditto, not many players actually play the game).

Anonymous said...

Regarding other countries that have done it I think Pakistan have a system where by the whole squad is in the military and get paid, live together etc. but get special leave to go train, play matches and all that.

And in Korea the team is sponsored by Siemens if I remember correctly and they employ the whole team but work with the hockey association over there to let them off whenever they need.

Unfortunately, they are both semi-professional set ups and we are not.

Anonymous said...

Here is another great idea by Gene, in an effort to keep his job I would imagine! Results arent good enough so lets try something even more drastic.

Dont be fooled that we are just 1 result away from qualification for olympics, we still have to beat those teams ranked lower than us to have any chance. Something which we could not do against Belgium and Scotland in test series over the last 12 months!

Results arent good enough hopefully the IHA and Branches have the balls to make the right decision and remove him from his post. get someone who can give the girls the right guidance to have a serious crack off qualifying!

What is Trap up to?

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Is this guy for real?

Anonymous said...

People are missing the facts!!! Gene Muller has had more money and time that any coach in the history of our game and he has consistently achieved one thing - failure! Do not let a 5th place finish at the Europeans fool you - they were lucky not to get relegated and played terrible!
Reality is that is he finishes lower than their ranking of 2 at the WCQ then he should be SACKED by the IHA anyway!
How can someone working fulltime in this job not have watched any club hockey or relatively little? What does he do with his time? There has been systematic failure within the IHA management structure to make people accountable - I believe that it is time that he went and that others above him in the chain who are not contributing to the long term future of our game should also be asked to go.

Anonymous said...

think this idea is big in Korea, a country with little over a thousand players who just stick 25 players into a training camp from age 16 and go from there.

no club scene to worry about and a huge investment.

to be honest, I'd love to see way more of the cash that goes to the national teams plowed into a few good rdo's to develop the sport first.

as for the first comment, emulating successful countries... holland and germany have no recourse to this method, nor do Belgium who are starting from a similar position (player numbers, small enough country) to us but appear to be racing ahead with a sport growing year on year (15 percent of new players is what I'm told every year) - seems they might be onto somthing.

Not sure england is a great model, their men haven't centralised as all their top players have moved to Holland (might have something to do with improved performances)

Anonymous said...

Think in opportunities instead of problems. Off course it is a great idea and probably the only way to get the women (and men) in the Olympics. Both teams are poor and need to improve big time.

But if we stick with old ideas and plans, it will never happen. This is the biggest weakness of Irish Hockey.

Anonymous said...

Great idea! Move all the best players to Dublin & forget about the rest.

Anonymous said...

On a side note I heard recently that some Irish players are being asked to contribute financially to the program they are involved in.

I cant beleive this.

Has the association been spending above its means?

This may sound simple, but if youare running an association like the IHA sure the math should be as follows:

Clubs Fees + grants from Irish Sports Council / Sport NI + Sponsorship = X

IHA Competitions + International Programs + Admin, CEO and Coaches Wages = Y

X-Y= Break Even or small amount in bank.

X-Y should not equal keep all staff happy with their wage and charge the players with the privelage of pulling on an Irish Shirt.

Where can we get a break down of IHA accounts?

Anonymous said...

New ideas shouldn't be cast aside without full discussion.I think there is merit in it if it can be implemented, but some players may not be able to.He has said they will not be left out.Mueller has done very well with the squad he has,and some players such as Jacob,Clarke and Smyth are really improving.The Ireland A squad has some serious talent coming through so I think the future is bright for Olympic qualification.The squad are definitely behind Mueller and I think any serious minded hockey enthusiast should get behind them as well.See you in London 2012!

Anonymous said...

all the best players are already in dublin,problem solved!but in all seriousness, this is a good idea and if feasible needs to be explored further. Belgium trained 9-2pm every day for two months leading up to the WCQ, they also did something similar the year they achieved third place in the euros and qualified directly for Beijing. Pakistan, Canada, India, China, NZ, Aus, Arg have all done this sort of thing too, maybe not for a year but sertainly for three months in the lead up to major tournaments. This could be a better option for the IHA, centralise for 3 or 4 months in the lead up to the Euros in 2011, having the squads training together twice a day and living in camp would give them the best possible chance of qualifying directly for the London games.

Anonymous said...

I think the comment at 11.14 is extremely harsh. Gene is simply acknowledging what's required to have a chance to compete at the Olympics.

I can understand the concerns of clubs losing their best players, but people need to realise the level of commitment & sacrifice required to play at truly world class level. The majority of our most promising athletes in other Olympic sports such as athletics, sailing, rowing etc. rarely compete at club level in Ireland, and spend the majority of their time abroad in the two years before the Games to get the best training and competition possible. Hockey needs to address this reality and try to change the structure to maximise their chances of qualification; if that's what the ultimate goal of our senior international teams is.

Boxing made the move to a centralised system a few years ago and look at the success it's brought them...

Anonymous said...

Would the comment at 9:22 acknowledge that maybe whilst Gene feels this is the best way forwsard for Ireland, and perhaps it is, consider the following!

1) Gene may not bew the best person for the Job, and this is the most critical point!

Season 08/09

Played 23 won 5 drawn 4 lost 14 scored 23 conced 48

10 of those matches were against sides ranked above Ireland - lost 9 and conceded 33 goals

Two out of the last three tournament Ireland haven't got to their seeded position e.g. Olympoic Qualifier Canada etc

Additionally Boxing in Ireland was always sucessful, McGuigan, Collins, McCullough at Olympic Level

Anonymous said...

the IHA needs to decide what's more important: the club game (all over the country, not just Leinster) or the national team...

if it's the national team then centralisation is probably the best idea.

But don't think there's enough money to implement it anyway...

So let the clubs keep their star players

Anonymous said...

Regardless of whether Gene is the right person for the job (I don't regard myself as qualified to comment on that issue), your accusation that he is proposing it only to save his position is a little harsh. I'm sure he's doing what he believes is best for the team and not just himself.

Also, regarding boxing, while we have a history of success in boxing, we had not achieved anything of note in the Olympics since 1992. Athens was a low point with only 1 athlete qualifying. Centralising the high performance program has had a pretty measurable effect of qualifying 5 athletes, 3 of whom medalled the following cycle.

Anonymous said...

"Meanwhile, the IHA's core Irish Sports Council grant has been reduced from €270,908 in 2009 down to €260,071 for 2010 while the Women In Sport grant from the same organisation is down from €90,905 to €80,000"

Could someone please clarify the situation regarding the money given from Sport NI to the IHA. I think you will find it makes very interesting reading in comparison the figures above. Perhaps we shpould centralise up North