Socceroos legend Robbie Slater accuses football heavyweight of bullying in war of words
Former Socceroo Robbie Slater has labelled a prominent sporting powerbroker ‘unAustralian’ in relation to his alleged aggressive conduct with numerous football academy coaches on Sydney’s northern beaches in recent years.
It comes as countless football academies have popped up across the nation the past decade, much to the frustration of Football Australia.
That development is one of the reasons Socceroos coach Graham Arnold voiced his ‘massive concerns’ for the junior level of the sport in Australia in November last year.
Slater, 58, feels Manly United and Manly Warringah Football Association (MWFA) boss David Mason has abused his power dating back to 2020.
The English Premier League title winner with Blackburn Rovers told Daily Mail Australia that Mason has allegedly forced a handful of junior academy coaches to stop mentoring footballers – either in an individual or team capacity – as the programs were staged in direct competition with training sessions run by Manly United or the MWFA.
The coaches allegedly include Patrick Weir – who runs Game Ready Football – and Ryan Doidge, who previously was the face of Dee Why Football Academy.
Robbie Slater has labelled a prominent sporting powerbroker ‘unAustralian’ in relation to his alleged aggressive conduct with numerous private football academy coaches on Sydney’s northern beaches
Slater (pictured with his wife) has alleged a number of talented coaches have been ‘driven out’ of the sport as they work in direct competition to established pathways in the northern beaches region
According to Slater, both coaches were allegedly ‘driven out’ by Mason after working closely with local MWFA clubs.
He further alleges it was in direct competition with Manly United, which has long been a pathway for emerging talent at representative level.
‘What he [Mason] is doing is unAustralian,’ Slater fumed.
‘They are academy coaches trying to make a living, and they have been virtually driven out of the sport.
‘It also shouldn’t be up to coaches at Manly United or the local clubs to decide what sports kids can play [besides football] or what academies they want to join.
‘If they want to play football, cricket, rugby league or whatever they choose, that is their choice.’
Slater wasn’t finished yet, declaring Mason has allegedly informed parents who enrol their kids into junior academies they are ‘jeapordising’ the opportunity to represent Manly United or local MWFA teams stretching from Avalon to Manly.
The academy games are staged each Sunday, as opposed to Manly United and MWFA games on a Saturday.
‘At the end of the day, it is the kids who are being punished,’ said Slater, who is involved with Peak Football Academy.
‘If they want to do extras, good on them, whatever helps them on their football journey.’
When presented with Slater’s gripes, Mason told Daily Mail Australia the former Socceroo’s list of allegations had no foundation
Football on Sydney’s northern beaches is the largest grassroots sport in the region, with 19,000-plus registered players
In response, Mason said many of Slater’s allegations were factually incorrect.
In an email sent to Daily Mail Australia, Mason outlined how Manly United and local coaches actively encourage parents to send their children to try their hand at other sports such as futsal.
The same letter goes onto explain private academies are not registered or sanctioned by Football Australia or Football NSW.
‘The ‘private academy’ conundrum has been bubbling for several years and we believe that the situation is now having a detrimental effect on the physical and mental well-being of young players and is causing confusion and anxiety amongst players and parents,’ the letter reads.
Mason went onto add both Manly United and the MWFA – where he is the CEO of both organisations – won’t apologise for looking to stamp out the growing influence of football academies.
‘The academy and extra training environment amongst the talented football pathway has been evolving rapidly in recent years and the vast array of opportunities that are thrust before players is out of control and confuses many families who want the best for their children,’ he said.
‘[Manly United], the MWFA board and its member clubs have no issue with parents seeking additional coaching and support for the development of their children….but [we believe] the creation of academy teams goes against the fundamental principles of grassroots football.’