Congratulations to the Perth Glory Youth team on booking their place in this year’s Youth League Grand Final, where they will meet Gold Coast United.
It has been a fantastic achievement by Gareth Naven, the coach, who was assisted by Kenny Lowe, Scott Miller, Lee Bamber and Frank Juric. There are plenty who may say that the Perth side is not the most talented individually; however the coaching staff have found the best players for key positions and made sure that they gel with those around them. The style of football that they tried to play all season has been a joy to watch. Some of the games, the quality of football from both teams has been superb, and shows that there is definitely talent in Western Australia as well as over East.
The Glory’s nine game unbeaten run in the middle of the season set up their push for the Finals, and saw the players grow in their self-belief.
What is worth taking into account with this run, and in fact their away form all season, is that their travel arrangements were a great deal more demanding than their first team colleagues. Early morning flights de rigeur due to many having to work or university commitments. Yet there was no need for excuses as they did their talking on the pitch. Credit must again go to Gareth Naven and his support team, who obviously prepared the team adequately with the limits that were placed on them.
What is sad is the scant regard with which the National Youth League is treated in some quarters. What is of a greater concern is the fact that next season this is even more likely to be the case with the club owners and first team coaches, as the age limit is to be lowered. With A League clubs having to call up from the Youth team if players are injured, this lowering of the age is a grave concern and one can’t help but think that although ultimately a good move, it is one that is being rushed through too quickly, before the league, the clubs and the players are ready.
At present players must be 16 on January 1 in year the Youth League commences, while the maximum age is 21 (must be no older than 20 on 1 January in the year Youth League commences). Next year this will be reduced to 19 in the year the youth league commences. Some 19 year olds and younger are ready to step up, as Tommy Oar has shown, but some take a little longer to mature physically. Could we risk destroying young players by either throwing them in when they are not ready or in fact stopping them making that break through? It is a tough balancing act, which will be made harder with the drop in age.
But let’s worry about that next season. Perth has a team in a Grand Final, so let’s get behind them. The game will not be televised but it will be broadcast on radio 990am in Perth.