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Ruud Dokter gives his first impressions of Irish football

The FAI’S new High Performance Director and one of the men tasked with finding a new senior manager is asked for his early thoughts.

Dokter speaking outside FAI Headquarters this week.
Dokter speaking outside FAI Headquarters this week.
Image: YouTube Screengrab

WE’VE HEARD LITTLE or nothing from the FAI’s new High Performance Director Ruud Dokter since the news was announced that he would be handed the role earlier this year.

The Dutchman took up the position at the start of August, replacing compatriot Wim Koevermans, and will oversee the development of all the international teams (barring the senior men’s side), the Emerging Talent Programme and coaching education in the country.

A little over a month into his new job, Dokter was asked to team up with Ray Houghton and find a replacement for Giovanni Trapattoni after the Italian’s five-year spell ended.

While Houghton spoke about the selection process earlier this week, his partner-in-crime has been stealth-like in managing to avoid doing interviews of any kind since arriving.

However, in interview filmed outside FAI Headquarters in Abbottstown, he reveals that he has been taking in games at various levels and age groups in a bid to get a better understanding of football in Ireland.

Can you tell us a bit about what you have been doing since you started with the FAI last month?

My first objective was to discover the landscape. To meet people, to see the players. To see the leagues and get a good full picture.

I was at the Galway Cup, the Hibernian Cup, I’ve seen the Airtricity League U19s, the women’s game and the U16s so I’ve already got a picture of the leagues and levels of play.

What are your initial impressions of Irish players?

I’ve seen many games at various levels and I’ve seen some really good players and also some really good female players. I was impressed by that. In Ireland we have 4 million people so we have many good football players.

The question is: how do we develop good football players? At what age should we start? What should be the best pathway for a talented young player in Ireland?

How important do you view structures like the Emerging Talent Programme?

I’ve been looking at the structure and been speaking to many people about the structures. It’s very important to have a good structure to develop young players because then it will be a natural pathway. The structures should be all over the country.

In principle, the best players should play with the best players. That gives young players, regardless of where they live, opportunities to develop their qualities. I’ve been looking at the current structures and have some ideas about that.

What are your plans to develop High Performance and Emerging Talent?

That’s a difficult question. I said my first objective was to discover the landscape and that might take a couple of months. One of my plans is to review underage football. I’ve seen so many things and spoken to so many people and so many good activities are going on.

My question would be: do we co-operate in a good way and are we all on the same page? That is important to have the same common philosophy of what we do with our players.

What challenges do you think you face in achieving that?

The biggest challenge is that everybody works together and co-operates with one objective in mind. Everybody should want to improve football in Ireland. That’s the main objective for me and that’s why I’m here. I hope I can inspire people at all levels of the game to improve the game.

Watch the interview below:

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About the author:

Ben Blake

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