Football Australia appoints Ernie Merrick OAM as first Director of Football


Football Australia is pleased to confirm that two-time Premiership and A-League Championship winner Ernie Merrick OAM manager has been appointed as the organisation’s first Director of Football.

Reporting directly to Football Australia Chief Executive James Johnson as a member of Football Australia’s management team, Merrick will have a broad tenure within the organization overseeing the transformation of technical direction and football development. in Australia.

Since the launch of its XI Principles for the Future of Australian Rules Football (‘XI Principles’) in 2020, Football Australia, driven by its desire to bring football back to the heart of the organisation, has led the most ambitious than Australian rules football has ever seen.

Merrick’s appointment is another important step in this reform process, which, among other milestones, included the unbundling of professional leagues, the establishment of a Coordinated Domestic Match Schedule (DMC) which laid the foundations for the implementation of a modern and progressive transfer system and the implementation of a national club licensing framework.

As Director of Football, Merrick – who has extensive experience in both player development and elite football coaching and was recently appointed Football Coaches Australia (FCA) Ambassador – will play a vital role. in advancing many of the key objectives expressed in the XI Principles as Football Australia seeks to disrupt the technical vision and direction of Australian rules football.

The role will also work closely with Football Australia’s Performance Director and national team coaches to coordinate a continuum of systemic football development and pathways from entry level to elite high performance.

Merrick, two-time A-League Coach of the Year, said he was looking forward to a new role in the game – one that will allow him to incorporate his years of experience and expertise in the game. Australian and international football in sport development and elite pathways.

“Australia as a nation punches above its weight in world football,” Merrick said. “The Socceroos have qualified for the FIFA World Cup™ five times in a row, the CommBank Matildas are ranked 12e around the world, and there’s a FIFA Women’s World Cup™ at home in less than a year. However, we must continue to be ambitious and develop, grow, innovate and drive positive change. »

My challenge as Director of Football is to help increase attendance and improve elite youth development and high performance programs for boys and girls. To increase the production of world-class Australian players, we need to review our football program and development programs to benchmark ourselves against top nations.

“Training alone is not enough to develop elite performers and prepare them for the Australian National Teams. As such, we will place greater emphasis on working with our Member Federations and A-League clubs help the growth of our best talents.

“And we have to invest in training coaches. Training programs should adopt modern learning methodologies, demonstrate strategic options and aim to develop technical skills within the context of the match. Improving game knowledge and awareness is crucial – sessions should encourage decision-making opportunities on game scenarios,” he said.

Football Australia chief executive James Johnson said Merrick’s diversity of experiences in the game, his national and international network and his ability to think strategically about Australian rules football’s unique challenges and opportunities made him the best fit. for this job.

“We are delighted to welcome Ernie (Merrick) to Football Australia in this crucial strategic role of football leadership,” said Johnson. “Ernie is well known to the Australian rules football family through his proven career, but one thing that impressed us was his commitment to his own professional development and how he has continued to grow to be more than just a manager. It was this dedication and the way Ernie clearly demonstrated throughout the recruitment process his understanding of Australia’s need to review their technical vision and strategies that attracted us to him.

“The Australian rules football ecosystem is unique in that we have to overcome many challenges that other football associations around the world do not see. The global football ecosystem also continues to evolve, and we have seen how our direct competitors across Asia have become competitive. It is essential that we take the next step in our journey as a footballing nation. Our task is to create a development ecosystem that is tailor-made and adapted to the objective that falls within these challenges by leveraging global best practices and innovative thinking.

“Since 2020, this new Football Australia administration has taken many steps to lay the foundations for the transformation of football to address the deep-rooted and complex player development challenges that have manifested themselves over the past decade. Ernie’s appointment is another key part of this journey as we strive to shift our technical direction and define new strategies to become a true global leader in player development.

“Ernie will work closely with our already very experienced technical and coaching teams, and we are delighted with the contributions he will make to Football Australia and the game more broadly,” Johnson concluded.

Merrick will take office as Football Australia’s director of football on Monday August 8, 2022.

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