Hay: Shortsighted response to Morgan's offer

OFFER REFUSED: The Government has refused to match Gareth Morgan's offer of money to New Zealand Football.
OFFER REFUSED: The Government has refused to match Gareth Morgan's offer of money to New Zealand Football.

As sure as the sun was going to rise this morning, it was only a matter of time before Gareth Morgan's offer to help fund an exciting new era of football in this country drew criticism.

To dismiss Morgan's proposal as the ramblings of an "interfering outsider" is akin to covering your ears and screaming, "I can't hear you", over and over again.

Football in New Zealand desperately needs people like Gareth Morgan, not necessarily for his money (although I'm sure his $5 million would help), but because he isn't prepared to sit by and accept mediocrity.

As former All Whites coach John Adshead often regales, there are two types of people in life, talkers and doers. Morgan falls into the latter category. He's prepared to back up his statements with action.

As I wrote last week, I firmly believe the administration at the top of the Kiwi game is broken. There needs to be a major shake-up at the top, and Morgan's comments that NZF is "being run like a local tennis club" should be the catalyst for that.

Sport New Zealand's promise of a review into the failings of the All Whites' campaign against Mexico is a start. But as Morgan has inferred, it's not enough.

It is too simplistic to assume the board of NZF are setting the game up to flourish because it is composed of people who have law qualifications or backgrounds in consultancy. We're talking about reality and accountability versus words on certificates.

The lack of adequate planning and leadership among the NZF board was evident for all to see during the All Whites' humbling at the hands of Mexico. It was a team clearly unprepared for the challenge they were about to face.

It is also flawed to laud NZF's Whole of Football programme as a success without delving into whether or not it's actually hitting some of its key performance indicators.

Central to the programme is surely the development of our young, elite-level players. Many would argue the greatest progression is occurring within programmes that sit outside the reach of NZF's tentacles.

Wynton Rufer's "Wynrs", Wiel Coever's "Coever" programme, Kevin Fallon's work at Mt Albert Grammar, the Phoenix, Ole Academy in Wellington, the APFA in Christchurch - the list goes on.

During the past week Sport NZ boss Peter Miskimmin intimated that the success of the Football Ferns shows that NZF are doing a "really, really good job".

While the accomplishments of the Ferns are something to cherish, I can't see how it can be used as a way to measure the success of the organisation.

Sheer numbers of players, combined with media interest would suggest that a better measure is the men's side of the game. The under-17s recent World Cup record of 11 goals against, zero for, combined with the All Whites' struggles against Mexico paints a more accurate picture of where the game sits.

Government flat out rejected Morgan's $5m offer, which had conditions such as the removal of the NZF board and the government doubling his investment.

For the sport's evolution, I genuinely hope that this isn't the end of the discussion.

Fans of the game should hold out hope for further investigation - at least some form of compromise.

A review of the governance of the game may be that compromise, and is necessary to decide how the game can move forward.

Anyone doubting Morgan's noble intentions only needs to look at what he has done for the Phoenix. He is an astute businessman who is passionate about New Zealand and New Zealanders doing well on the world stage. Football cannot afford for him to get frustrated and lose interest.

- Danny Hay is a former All Whites captain

Sunday Star Times