Our young football talent can be confident they ‘will never walk alone’* after Liverpool legend John Barnes opened the club’s first training academy in Australia at Southern Cross University.
But the Liverpool Football Club International Academy NSW, based out of the Southern Cross Football Centre in Lismore, is more than honing skills and developing talent, John said.
“They are going to have a lot of fun. We’ll be showing the right humility, the right dignity, because The Liverpool Way for youngsters is not just about trying to get them to be professional footballers. It’s about trying to get them to be decent young human beings.
“What they do at the Liverpool Football Club will be replicated here. The same sessions they go through, the same rhetoric that is espoused at Liverpool for the young players will be exactly the same as they will be doing here.”
With 108 goals in 407 games for Liverpool between 1987 and 1997, John Barnes has been voted by fans as one of the top five LFC players of all time.
In his 10 years with Liverpool, he won two First Division titles, two FA Cups, one League Cup and three Charity Shields. Barnes also scored 11 times for his country in 79 appearances, and his iconic solo goal against Brazil in 1984 is considered one of the best individual goals ever scored for England.
“We are all extremely excited about John’s visit,” said the Academy’s general manager Scott Collis.
“John is a true Liverpool and England Legend and a hero to fans all over the world.”
John said the impact of Craig Johnston – one of the most successful Australians to make a mark in English and European football, including Liverpool (1981-88) – lived on.
“We know the talent and character is here in Australia, the determination. The Academy is going to give kids here the opportunity.”
Liverpool FC International Academy NSW was announced in April as an Australia first, bringing together the facilities, expertise and teaching resources of Southern Cross University with the proven football education methodology and philosophy of Liverpool Football Club.
John was pleased with what he saw at the Southern Cross Football Centre.
“It’s a fantastic facility. And the sun is shining; we don’t get that in England,” he said.
“What’s important is the attitude and the commitment not just of the players but also the coaches and the staff and everyone around here who supports it. I’m sure it’ll be a success.”
Liverpool Academy coach James Gow was appointed as Head Coach in June, and has been educating a group of around 20 local coaches on the Liverpool Way to enable them to deliver coaching sessions for the Academy, initially in Lismore and around the North Coast and Mid North Coast of NSW.
John has worked with James previously in Singapore.
“James is a fantastic ambassador for Liverpool. People like James are the ones who do all the work and deserve the credit. The Academy coaches and the community coaches spread the word about Liverpool,” John said.
His visit marked a new stage in the development of the partnership, with the Academy opening its doors to local players in a series of clinics in Lismore, Tweed, Maclean and Coffs Harbour in September and October.
Going forward, Liverpool FC International Academy NSW will offer development programs for junior players of all ages and ability levels. Each program will focus heavily on teaching key life skills as well as the tactical, physical, social and mental aspects of football.
“This is a massive statement of intent from the club,” Mr Collis said.
“John is a huge name for football fans all over the world. To have him here representing the club at our opening demonstrates how seriously Liverpool FC takes the opportunity here in Australia and the development of our academy.”
*”You’ll Never Walk Alone”, a show tune from the 1945 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Carousel, is the anthem for Liverpool Football Club.