Kris Korkian has coached within MWFA for several years, and attended several coaching courses including the C-Licence and Future Coaches Program in 2019 and 2020. Despite being a successful businessman, Kris wanted to invest in something more meaningful and leave a legacy of some kind. He decided to help develop women’s football back in Armenia where his origins are, because he feels it is very far behind the rest of the world.
“I want to encourage girls from a young age to play football, and to let the whole country know and understand that girls can and should be encouraged to play. It is not just for men or boys. We have to provide them with facilities, but it starts with just the simple things: giving each of them a ball, and teaching the coaches that above everything else, they need to make sure the players have fun and it is not something forced upon them.”
Kris believes it was his two daughters that inspired this project, with his younger one currenty playing for Wakehurst. Although he has coached men’s teams in the past as well, when he started coaching his older daughter’s team at U9s a few years ago, he could see how rewarding it is to teach something to young kids.
“When I saw how easy it is to help the players develop their skills when you apply the right methods that are suited to their age group, it made me realise that if it can be done in Australia, it can be done anywhere in the world. Of course, we have the Matildas here as role models and inspiration for young players, but in many other countries the response is often ‘this won’t work’. I’ve been in business for a long time and it actually makes me want to try harder if someone says it cannot be done.”
When Kris visited Armenia a few years ago, it seemed as though no one cared about women’s football.
“When I went there, it was sad. They say ‘why bother, football is not for women’, stuff like that, but they’re missing the point. There is a bigger picture of what football can do. There needs to be an opportunity to play, for example in schools. There needs to be a starting point at least.”
The first thing Kris did was take hundreds of footballs with him every time he travelled there. Next, he needed to find coaches, most of whom ended up being teachers, although he still feels it’s still important to help them understand that the most important thing is for the girls to continue playing without too much expectation or pressure so they want to keep coming back. This is where MWFA Coach Development Manager Eugene Lawrenz comes in.
“Obviously I’ve attended a lot of courses with Eugene and I’ve seen how good he is with getting new ideas into people’s heads, whether that is players or coaches, even just within one session. This is often with coaches or players who haven’t even met him before as well. So I wanted to get him in to work with our coaches and 200 players we have so far. I’m confident they can become the best coaches in Armenia under Eugene’s guidance, so I am also inviting coaches from outside of my program to participate if they want to. The more the better.”
Kris believes that within five to seven years, they will start seeing a difference across the country.
“Three years ago there was nothing here, but countries who started building something 20 or 30 years ago are now in the top 10 or 20 in the world rankings. Armenia is currently ranked 52 out of 53 in Europe. Even countries where religion is a barrier like Saudi Arabia are investing in women’s football. Look at how well the Philippines did in the recent World Cup after bringing in an expert to help take them to the next level. So I believe we can do something really special here.”
Kris and his wife Taleen are funding this project out of their own pockets. If any clubs, organisations or individuals would like to make donations of any sort (balls, shoes, shinpads, coaching equipment, etc), they can reach our directly to Kris by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.