In the first edition of Coach the Coach for 2022, Football Queensland State Technical Director and Pro Licence coach Gabor Ganczer writes about the evolution of the Technical Director role in modern football.
Four years ago I became Football Queensland’s State Technical Director after working in clubland and in analyst roles with the men’s national teams of Hungary and Australia.
The role of Technical Director – ‘TD’ – is an important evolution stage in modern football, as players are increasingly developed in structured environments rather than the street or the local park.
Scottish coach Andy Roxburgh is widely considered the Godfather of TDs. He started out as a Director of Coaching in Scotland in the 1970s before becoming the Technical Director of UEFA in 1994 and the current TD of the Asian Football Confederation.
The basic difference between the old Director of Coaching role and the modern Technical Director is that TDs have a wider scope to influence player, coach and club development. Developing quality coaches doesn’t work if they operate in isolation – there must be a TD to develop the overall direction of their club, Federation or Confederation.
Put simply, the TD represents the philosophy of their football institution. In my case, the State TD role is to oversee the growth and development of Queensland’s football culture.
I am a big believer in the creation and maintenance of a strong football culture. I come from a Danubian school of football which has been enormously influential in the development of football around the world.
English football journalist Johnathan Wilson detailed this influence in his latest book, The Names Heard Long Ago: How the Golden Age of Hungarian Football Shaped the Modern Game.
Hungarians have played a crucial role in the intellectual development of Australian football, from former Football Australia chairman Frank Lowy to SBS journalist Les Murray and former Socceroos coach Frank Arok.
My own coaching journey began in Hungary in the early 2000s when I was working as Media Officer for the Hungarian Football Federation. At the time, the coach of the Hungarian national team was Lothar Matthaeus, who captained Germany to a World Cup victory in 1990 and was named FIFA Player of the Year in 1991.
I have played the game for 30 years in two continents, but my professional training was in journalism and sport administration. Working alongside Lothar and experiencing his enthusiasm and knowledge of the game inspired me to do my coaching licences.
I started as a player-coach of senior teams and joined Hungarian academies as a B Licence coach. When I received my A Licence, I moved to Queensland after being offered the Head Coach role at Coolum FC in 2010.
That club organised my permanent residency visa which paved the way for me to become a Queenslander. To this day I carry a Coolum Dolphins keyring on my set of keys as a reminder of where it all began.
I have held a range of roles in football, from Media Officer to Head Coach of community and NPL teams, to opposition scout for the Socceroos under Ange Postecoglou and Peter Cklamovski, to analyst at Brisbane Roar under former coach John Aloisi. I believe this range of experiences has helped me in my current role at FQ.
Queensland is an enormous state – larger in size than Hungary – and many people live outside of the city in regional areas. One of FQ’s strategic priorities has been to rebuild our state-wide talent pathway, so that regional Queenslanders have the same opportunities as their Metro counterparts.
Part of this process involves educating local coaches and employing highly qualified people on the ground in regional areas. In 2021, we delivered a record number of advanced coaching courses and brought in three new fulltime technical staff to work in historically under-serviced parts of the state.
Football Australia/AFC Pro Licence holder and coach educator Michael Edwards is now based in Townsville, while FQ’s new Club Development Managers Alec Wilson and Darren Thomas are based in Wide Bay and Whitsunday Coast respectively.
FQ has also invested significant time and energy into developing the women’s game to ensure that Queensland produces players for the national team. Our FQ Academy (QAS) women’s program, which celebrates 30 years in 2022, continues to provide a pathway for players and coaches to transition into Brisbane Roar’s Liberty A-League Women side.
When I joined FQ, I was one of four technical staff in the office at Meakin Park. Now, we have 18 highly skilled technical staff across the state working with clubs to develop coaches and players.
Although my role has expanded and our team has grown, our philosophy remains the same. For us, the player is the project. Everything we do as coaches, whether we are employed by FQ or a local Queensland club, should be guided by that principle.