By Cordwainer Bull
My club (name irrelevant for the purposes of this blogstering) was recently accredited with New Zealand Football’s Quality Club Mark (QCM), an award designed to identify and support clubs which are well run and promote a positive environment.
Meeting the programme’s pre-requisites was a condition of being allowed to enter the northern league this season, and on an amateur landscape where clubs can corral significant sums of community funding, it’s a reasonable proposition to expect certain standards to be met in terms of financial processes, compliance, administration, and leadership.
But watching a Chatham Cup match at the weekend got me thinking. Should we extend this concept of requiring “base conditions” to similarly demand some form of “warrant of fitness” for players who seek to compete at northern league or Chatham Cup level?
In an environment where clubs, administrators, and referees go to a great deal of effort to maintain a competitive standard, should players not also have to step up to the mark and indicate they are “pitch-worthy” beyond the most lumpen measures of being able to run and kick?
In the same way that my club needed a QCM to continue competing in the northern league, should players also be required to illustrate they have a certain amount of football intelligence and a fundamental grasp of the laws of the game?
I pose this question after brief sideline discourse with a (visiting) player on Saturday.
The referee had just awarded a direct free kick for the goalkeeper handing the ball outside the penalty box, and the nuggetty little No 7 went apeshit.
“It’s has to be indirect,” he screamed at the ref (who ignored him).
Standing behind the goal (not far from Blogmeister Enzo, as it happened) – I offered a quick correction: “Nah, hand ball is always a direct free kick, pal.”
To my astonishment, he turned and replied – as if he had me on toast – “You’re wrong, because he’s the goalkeeper, remember!”
This was accompanied by a sneer that is the exclusive domain of the intellectually conceited.
And worse, No 7 then trotted over to the sideline to share his supposedly superior knowledge with the lino (who ignored him).
It reminded me of a bad habit of one of the veterans of my club, who for nigh on 10 years in northern league would regularly appeal for offsides from goal kicks.
In my view stupidity and ignorance don’t just impact on football, but rate among the wider challenges we face in society in general these days (notably allowing smarmy politicians to sell utter bullshit to gullible Kiwis).
But in the pressure-cooker atmosphere on a football pitch, ignorance which can unnecessarily aggravate conflict could be easily addressed.
If there was a requirement for players – perhaps as part of regional league registration – to pass a written or verbal test on the laws of the game, which was renewable every three years, it might easily remove a contributing factor to some on-pitch histrionics.
Okay, so it is never going to be a thing. (In evidence I point to the far bigger failure of the code to even manage to invoke sensible amateur misconduct regulations in New Zealand for close on 30 years now).
But, hey, this is the blogosphere, so we can make shit up as we go.
So, (drum roll, please) In The Back Of The Net is proud to launch the “New Zealand Football Quality Player Mark (QPM)”.
And if NZF would like to promote it with the same rigour that has accompanied the Quality Club Mark nationally, the accompanying patter could go something like this (Don’t pay me NZF, this is a free consultancy) …
The New Zealand Football Quality Player Mark (QPM) accreditation programme is designed to identify, support and highlight football players in New Zealand who are knowledgeable about the sport they love to compete in, and is aligned to New Zealand Football’s “Whole of Football Intelligence Plan”.
The sporting landscape across New Zealand is changing, and we need to ensure that our football players across the country have a sporting chance of staying relevant in the ever-evolving domestic game and avoiding looking and sounding like complete dickheads.
Thus only footballers with QPM status will be licenced to compete at regional level and play in the Chatham Cup.
The QPM is a national partnership across the seven Federations and supported by a range of sporting, community and non-governmental organisation partners who hate seeing utter dummies be such terrible ambassadors for the code out on the pitch.
QPM is good practice for your team and you individually and is recommended for all football players in New Zealand.
There are two levels of achievement in the Quality Player Mark;
1 STAR – Good practice player (knows the offside rule)
2 STAR – Great practice player (knows hand ball is a direct free kick)
But that’s just me. Welcome the thoughts of others, and perhaps even some more colourful vignettes from referees.
[Cordwainer Bull is a former Waikato United and Waikato FC programme columnist. His hobbies include fork bending and collecting in-flight sick bags. His favourite player was Roy Little.]
Categories: Other Football Topics
A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.