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Spencer Prior: Why youth system is so important
SPENCER Prior feels extra importance should be placed on youth football and clubs bringing through their own players.
“For clubs like Southend the youth system should be more important than instant success with the first team,” said Prior.
“So often we see coaches come in and bring their own vision and philosophy, signing 15 new players and then disappearing when they get a better offer.
“This leaves the club with another coach coming in stuck with a bunch of players that don’t fit the new coach’s vision and philosophy.
“What should be the club’s strategy is to have a club model that can be applied through from the youth team to the first team, so they can develop their own players rather than having to go spend money they don’t have on signing players and paying agents to find them.”
And Prior feels that should stay the same even if finances become incredibly tight.
“If a club is in financial difficulties the first thing that often gets cut is the youth team budget,” said Prior.
“But this is a false economy and a short-sighted vision from the owners of clubs that all want instant success.
“Better coaches equals better players so invest in youth coaching and the club will develop better players – it’s simple.”
Prior feels that should certainly remain the case with Southend and, despite having emigrated to Australia after hanging up his boots in 2007, the former Greensward School pupil still keeps tabs on the latest happenings at Roots Hall.
“Of course I look at the results and the developments at the club because I loved the times I had there,” said Prior.
“As my home town club it will always have a special place in my heart.
“Unfortunately I’ve lost track of what’s happening with the underpinning programmes within the club. But what I do know is that in Ricky Duncan the club have one of the best youth team coaches around.”
Prior, himself, is now also a coach and, for the past three seasons, he has been working with the Australian women’s football national team.
He is also head coach of their under 19 team and is currently in Myanmar, preparing for a World Cup qualifier against China.
“It’s been a fantastic opportunity and I got to coach at the World Cup in Germany 2011,” said Prior.
“Once the qualifiers are done, I’ll be taking up a new role as Technical Director and Head of Game Development for Football Federation Tasmania.
“It’s a new opportunity based around developing and supporting community football coaching standards and also overseeing the high performance programmes within the State of Tasmania.
“I will also be coaching the State under 20 boys team that will hopefully feed into Melbourne Victory Youth team as we have a strong relationship with the A League clubs across the Tasman.
“I’m currently studying my pro diploma and I am working as hard at my coaching as I did at my playing to try to succeed with that too.”