The greatest sporting event in the Universe is taking place and the 32 teams participating in the finals have already endured a very lengthy qualifying period having spent two years overcoming challengers from every region in the World.

I refer of course to the “Real” World Cup where every country in the World is involved.

What an honour and privilege players must feel when selected for their country. Most of the players involved in the World Cup are just coming off a nine month club season in addition to a two month club preseason before a four week World Cup. No holidays for these players!

Many young players competing in local competitions be it NPL/QPL/SAP and zone competitions throughout Queensland dream of playing football professionally but very few actually understand how much work, commitment and dedication it takes. Many local players just look at the rewards that professional players receive in terms of cars; houses; money and fame, very few however are prepared to put in the long hours and sacrifices that professionals do.

I can tell young players that it takes very serious commitment to even make an attempt to become a professional player or coach let alone actually achieving it.

Consider the following:

  1. Training three times per week is not enough. YOU must do your own training over and above your club training.
  1. You cannot pick and choose when you are available for training or games because if you are serious  about your dream you must be fully committed.
  1. You cannot stay up drinking, playing X-Box and partying all night before a game the following day.
  1. You cannot miss training and games because its school holidays. I am amazed by the number of players (U-16 & U-18) who cite cannot attend training because of study but are ok on game day, and those who want to be treated as adults but cannot attend matches that fall on school holidays.
  1. You cannot be involved in other activities that affect your ability to play and train. If watching the Rugby League State of Origin is more important to you than playing and training football then frankly you will NEVER become a professional football player. You should seriously look at playing the sport you love the most!
  1. Playing for your school team is an honour so is getting selected for the “School State Team” but if you want to become a professional player try getting selected in the “Real” State team and the “Real” National team.
  1. Having to play for your school team because you are on a scholarship is understandable, but understand that if your performance with your club team is below par (because you have just played 90 minutes for your school team immediately before) you cannot expect selectors to know that or even accept it. That aside playing under such circumstances is detrimental to your health and fitness because of the increased possibility of injury.
  1. Wishing to become a professional player is one thing wanting to is another. You must have resilience. You need to accept constructive criticism. You need to understand that you need to “Earn” your spot in a team and not expecting to play because its your turn. This equal playing time is for players who are playing for fun with their mates not for players playing in elite teams where players are selected on merit. You need to understand that you are NOT “Entitled” you must earn through dedication and hard work and not giving up when things do not go your way.
  1. Life is full of choices so if you are serious about becoming a professional player then there are sacrifices to be made. Even then there are  guarantees, so think long and hard before making a decision. This starts when you trial for a club team. First make sure that you will be available for the entire season (barring some serious injury). Secondly be aware that this a team sport where your absence affects other serious players. Thirdly make sure that you are playing for YOU not Mum and Dad so be honest and if you prefer another sport say so. Your Mum and Dad will understand.

My advice to young players is to firstly in whatever you do in life, strive to be the very best that YOU can be.  ALWAYS to get a good education to ensure you have something to fall back on should your football dream not  come to fruition.  Set yourself “Realistic” objectives as you proceed through the ups and downs of football and finally, remember that: “Where there is a will, there is a way” the rest is up to YOU!