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Sports

Getting ready for the future

As appeared in Red & White Supplement January edition

Gibraltar football has entered into another era in its development. As the game becomes more professional so to are increasing the possibilities of finding job opportunities within the game .
Whilst it is yet not a trend that has taken hold locally with little to no publicity and information on the numerous opportunities available, experts within the game locally claim that there should be up to fifty different roles which could eventually be filled within individual club structures once the game finds its financial feet and starts developing its commercial and business arm.
From physios to nutritionists, marketing and business management to financial administrators, human resources and administration football has the potential of creating numerous employment opportunities in Gibraltar which already surround the game elsewhere, even at non-league level in the UK. These would, however, require for what is a “wealthy” yet at present somewhat under achieving industry in Gibraltar to find a stable footing from which the millions of pounds invested into the game every year begins to generate a profit. At present figures show how only a very small number of clubs actually generate a profit. From last season’s top five, only two clubs actually showed a profit in their final season accounts.
Both Lincoln Red Imps and St. Joseph’s produced profits. Even though Lincoln Red Imps President Dylan Viagas highlighted that the risk of staying out of European competitive club football could put the club at risk of facing a loss.
Europa FC, one of the biggest spenders in local football and who although considered successful have only once won the league, again showed a loss on their accounts last summer.
Mons Calpe and Gibraltar United showed losses exceeding the £250,000 margins.
The latter dropping out of the league at the start of the season whilst Mons Calpe continue to struggle.
There is, however, optimism among many that football can eventually start generating profits and benefits beyond the field. Some of these have already been seen through the Gibraltar FA whose own growth and restructurings have seen the association produce their own profits which is now benefitting the sport.
The optimism has been shared among the younger generation, where already a number of young students heading for the UK to study have been taking up sports related studies. Many outside the actual field of playing and based on the back scene activities which in other countries has led to clubs developing faster as a commercial interest.
Among these group is Liam Moreno. Cousin of Huddersfield’s Jansen Moreno and nephew to John Moreno currently with Europa F.C. technical staff , Liam’s progression into the field of sports management has seen him join the ranks of Wimbledon AFC whilst studying at Kingston’s St. Mary’s, thanks in part to the influences guiding him. Among one of the key guiding principles he was advised on was to offer himself up to do voluntary work in order to get experience within the field. Something he advises others should also consider.
Liam started at Wimbledon AFC at the start of the season after attending a talk on Sports Management given by his cousin Jansen Moreno.
As the young student admits he had already been heading towards sports management but the realisation that he should try and get some work experience was opened up to him following the talk which started his search for a club.
With both Fulham and Wimbledon having their Academies close by, and using the numerous contacts he had access to it had facilitated the opportunity to join Wimbledon. Although finding a club had required some work and many applications even though it was voluntary work he was asking for.
Wimbledon presented him with the right facilities and opportunities, whilst other clubs, some non-league, although opening their doors to him did not have the facilities on offer which would have meant having to provide his own equipment.
Since arriving at Wimbledon Liam has been working alongside the Academy teams.
His work , although not directly with the first team, has already provided him with a deeper understanding of a professional club structure and the importance successful clubs are placing on player pathways from an early age. Something he says continues to be lacking in Gibraltar.
As a sports analyst he observes player and team performances and produces the type of data which clubs are using to develop their squads. Something he admitted he had never seen done especially at youth level.
As he explained his role exposed him to see the differences in approaches to player assessment at a younger age between what he knew was the reality in Gibraltar and what it is like at clubs in the UK. Liam explained how his work would see him taking footage of matches and training and later delivering the data which would be assessed when reviewing player development. The statistics as Liam explained depended very much on the requirements from the coaches who would provide a brief on what areas they required data to be collated on.
Through his work with the under U11 and under 12’s he has been exposed to a new experience of youth football which has given him a new perspective on the game. “Just seeing the under 11 and under 12 it is another level of football . They would beat any Under 15 here in Gibraltar’’ commented Liam.
Although this experience is limited due to the short time he has been at the club he has already gathered a better understanding of club football and how it progresses seamlessly from youth level through to a senior level.
His work with the Academy has, he explained exposed him first hand as to “how structures are created with player philosophies in place that take players through from youth level to senior level.” Something which he feels Gibraltar is missing. “It’s a mayor setback” he commented. “Many players will leave the club before they reach senior level and players will all be playing differently.”
The young student hopes that once he finishes his course he will be able to return to Gibraltar. “Hopefully I would like to come back to Gibraltar and join a club where I can help build the structure from youth to senior level.”
He was , however, realistic about his prospects and was already gearing himself up for the prospect of having to stay in the UK or seek work in Spain.
His preferred choice was to come to Gibraltar.
Nonetheless, as he explained Gibraltar still needed to do more to promote the opportunities that exist in the industry. “ I think the GFA need to do something more to show the opportunities there are in football not just in playing but in the industry as a whole,” He had been lucky to have had several people around him who had guided him. However as he admitted there had been little information available to him when making his choices, especially at the career’s fair.