A profound change in form from one stage to the next in the life history of an organism, as from the caterpillar to the pupa and from the pupa to the adult butterfly.
New Zealand youth football development is in dire need of a metamorphosis. A profound, exciting and entirely new way of thinking and doing in regards to curriculum, pedagogy, and assessment around youth football development in NZ needs adopting. All NZ youth football development schemes need uprooting, scraping and redeveloping from the foundation. A fundamental transformation is in order.
Imagine the football development landscape in NZ as a caterpillar with the potential of metamorphosis to butterfly. Crawling at the bottom of the FIFA World Rankings (#150) to possibly taking flight. A profound and fundamental transformation is more than possible in NZ. This is exciting and should be inspiring for the people in charge of shaping NZ's football development landscape.
Just as a caterpillar does not achieve metamorphosis overnight, neither can the youth football development landscape of a country. First, there must be a set of conditions in place for the metamorphosis to occur, a life cycle stage, chrysalis / cocoon, in which the caterpillar is given the opportunity to become something fundamentally different and new. From lowly worm to winged beauty. Feats once thought impossible, now become possible and real.
It is this life cycle stage, the chrysalis / cocoon, of football development that NZ has failed to create or replicate for many reasons. NZ players bypass the chrysalis going straight from creeping caterpillar to magnificent butterfly without having spent nearly enough time developing under the right conditions. Half developed caterpillar - butterfly hybrids emerged too soon from the incubator, it's no wonder so few NZ players take flight and remain in top flight football. The NZ player has not spent enough time in an environment with a focus on development and growth. Thus, top NZ football talents emerge on scene unequipped with the necessary skills to succeed in a wild, challenging and ruthless football world. Weaknesses, half developed football bodies and brains, are quickly exposed. Despite the evidence provided by hundreds of Kiwi test subjects, the false perception prevails that NZ football "talents" and NZ football development are further down the track than they really are. It is a top quality masquerade. Perhaps more football people need to be thinking in biological terms.
Are there people and organisations in NZ with a genuine and vested interest in creating the conditions for football development metamorphosis to occur? Of course, but not enough. Guardians of the beautiful game in NZ are in short order, particularly those concerned with development. Patience is a rarity. Few football people understand or desire to understand growth, learning and development at the core. Rugby mentality, a predominantly physical game, rules the roost. Little in the way of structural change seems to be happening on behalf of NZ Football.
Perhaps the most discouraging thing about youth football development in NZ is the ongoing mindset of perceived metamorphosis, over the past thirty years, caused by successive Youth World Cup entries via Oceania. Due to numerous qualifications since the late 1990’s the perception is that NZ is a country rich in football knowledge with a successful youth football development programme, when in actuality, little to no development has occurred in nearly three decades of football.
Perceived success is a massive problem in NZ and not only from a qualification standpoint. Big trout small pond syndrome is rampant on the Islands, and loads of Kiwi footballers are infected. Why do the trout grow so big in NZ? Simply put, they have no natural predators and zero competition. The NZ football landscape is no different. Kiwi footballers become big trout fast, too fast for their own good. Most Kiwis fly (irony not missed) to the top of the NZ football mountain, while other players in their respective countries take the long, challenging and windy walk up the football development path.
"Regarding football development, development of any kind actually, the long way is the best way. It is the only way. It is also the fastest way to ensure success."