Photo: Kurt Reynolds demonstrates a technique for youngsters [PlessPix]
Kurt Reynolds, 43, is the new Football Federation Tasmania director of coaching and game development manager.
It is an inspired appointment as Reynolds is a Tasmanian who has reached a high level of the game, playing in the old NSL and captaining the Young Socceroos at the Under-20 World Cup in Chile in 1987.
If anyone can inspire our youngsters through personal experience, it is Reynolds.
He has done it, and he can tell our young players what is required for them to make it beyond these shores.
I interviewed Reynolds following his appointment.
Walter Pless: Where did you play your early football in Tasmania, and for how long?
Kurt Reynolds: I commenced playing with Trevallyn Junior Soccer Club in Launceston at the age of 7. From there, I progressed into the northern representative teams and Tasmanian state teams from U/13 to U/17. At 13 years of age, I joined Launceston Juventus ( now Launceston City), where I initially played U/17s and then progressed into the senior state league squad. At 15 years of age, I was selected into the AIS program on a fulltime scholarship.
WP: How did you catch the eye of the various national selectors?
KR: Through participating in the National Youth Championships, playing in the National Youth League with the AIS, and playing in the NSL.
WP: Tell me about your international career.
KR: My first international experience was with the AIS squad where, on two occasions, we travelled to Germany and Holland, where we participated in youth football competitions. The tours included tournaments at Borussia Dortmund, Ajax, PSV Eindhoven and Feyenoord, with clubs from all over Europe competing. My first youth international was in 1986 at KGV against Czechoslovakia. We won the match 2-1. So, I have fond memories at KGV. Under coach Les Scheinflug, the Young Socceroos went onto the World Youth Cup qualifiers in Auckland, New Zealand, where we gained qualification with wins over Chinese Taipei, New Zealand and Israel. In preparation for the World Youth Cup in Chile, the team toured Thailand, Noumea and New Zealand, then Argentina on route to Chile. Competing in a World Youth Cup was, without doubt, my career highlight. Our group was based in Santiago and included Togo, Yugoslavia and the hosts, Chile. We achieved a 2-0 win in the opening match versus Togo, where Alistair Edwards and myself scored. Yugoslavia, who went on to win the competition, handed us a 4-0 drumming. Then came a 2-0 loss to Chile at their national stadium in front of 75,000 screaming Chileans.
WP: Tell me about your NSL career.
KR: My NSL career started at Blacktown City in Sydney in 1987. On return from the World Youth Cup, I transferred to Apia Leichardt under coach Rale Rasic. During that season, we won the NSL Ampol Cup competition. I then transferred back to Blacktown City, who had gained promotion back into the NSL. In conjunction with an employment opportunity, I then transferred to West Adelaide, where I played one season in the NSL, followed by a season in the South Australian State League.
WP: What did you do when your playing days were over?
KR: During my early 20s, I commenced a career in FMCG ( fast moving consumer goods) with Pepsi Cola. As the NSL was semi-professional, players needed another income source and potentially another career. Over time, I gained valuable learnings and promotion into more senior roles, predominantly in sales and marketing, which enabled me to progress into roles with a major Australian gourmet food importer and then Dairy Farmers in 2000. In 2002, I was approached by a large Saudi Arabian dairy business company to head up their sales and marketing group and relocated to the Middle East. Living and working in such an interesting and culturally diverse region was a wonderful experience.
WP: What was the highlight of your time with the Young Socceroos?
KR: Definitely the World Youth Cup in Chile. Pitting yourself and the team against players such as Yugoslavian’s Stimac, Prosinecki, Boban and Suker was a great challenge. Then, the penultimate match against Chile in front of 75,000 partisan supporters was special.
WP: What was the highlight of your NSL career?
KR: Winning the 1988 NSL Ampol Cup with Apia Leichardt on penalties versus Brunswick Juventus
WP: Did you ever face prejudice because you were from Tasmania?
WP: What advice would you give to young Tasmanian players trying to make it in football at the highest level in Australia?
KR: Be humble, believe in yourself, and work hard.
WP: What is your coaching philosophy?
KR: I like to break my coaching philosophy into two parts, personally, and football.
Personally, it is that nobody is bigger than the game. And, to add value in any football environment which I enter.
And as for football, to maximise the potential abilities of players through the provision of knowledgeable, current and game-related football methods in line with the FFA National Curriculum. In the game, this should be identifiable through the employment of a 1-4-3-3 playing system. A well-organised team structure in defence, attack and transition. A possession-orientated game style from playing out, building up and attacking with the ball predominantly on the ground. Strong utilisation of width and depth in attack through the 7 and 11, along with swift switches of play. Adequate numbers behind the ball in defensive set-plays and a modest but effective repertoire of offensive set plays.
WP: What are your aims in this new job?
KR: The key functions of the role are aimed at promoting and communicating the FFA NTC, building participation in the game, improving coach education in both the advanced and community pathways, organisation and facilitation of the talented player pathways, delivering community-based game development activities and communicating with key stakeholders within the game. My aim is to deliver these projects professionally, build the game in Tasmania, and enjoy the football along the way.
WP: Can Tasmania ever have an A-League team?
WP: Is there a place in football for a senior Tasmanian representative side to play regular matches?
KR: I believe that entry into the A-League would provide the obvious opportunity to achieve this. But, friendlies or promotional matches, such as the Central Coast Mariners versus Tasmania game at KGV this year, could be held more often.