PAUL Okon is widely regarded as one of the most cultured footballers Australian soccer has produced. Now he will get the chance to apply his polish to some of the country's best prospects after being named coach of the Young Socceroos.
The former Australian international's appointment as the under-20 team's mentor has all but completed the game's shift from the Dutch coaching regime that some critics believe has been holding back its development.
In the process, Football Federation Australia has handed control of the development and future of youth football to a group of former Socceroos.
While German Holger Osieck is in charge of the Socceroos and Dutchman Han Berger is FFA's technical director, the remainder of the coaching program features former national team stars Tony Vidmar (head of the soccer program at the Australian Institute of Sport), his brother Aurelio (assistant Socceroos coach and coach of the Australian under-22 team), Robbie Hooker (assistant Socceroos coach), Alistair Edwards (Australian under-17 coach) and now Okon, who will also assist Vidmar with the under-22 side.