Most people will agree that the FFA’s Youth league is a great stepping stone for talented state league players around the country to showcase their ability to the A league coaches around the country. Although costly it will pay dividends, as such a bridge between the state league and the Hyundai A League is essential.
Powerhouse rugby union nations New Zealand and South Africa have this, Australia tried it for one season and is now regretting John O’Neill pulling the plug on it, even though at the time financially it may have been the correct management decision.
However some of the rules, which are aimed at development, may need to be looked at before it becomes the ideal breeding ground for young talented players and up and coming coaches.
Yesterday’s Perth Glory versus Brisbane Roar raised a few such issues. It was a great game of football where both teams should be applauded for playing some wonderful flowing football. Those to stand out were Tommy Amphlett for Perth Glory, Isaka Cernak and Josh McVey for the Roar.
For those unfamiliar with the youth League rules, with half an hour to go in the game, both coaches must empty their benches to ensure that all the boys have at least half an hour game time. Although this can effect the game quite dramatically this move is one that is to be applauded. The only exception to this rule is goalkeepers who must play a predetermined number of minutes in the season.
If in the last half hour a player goes down injured, then one of the players replaced may then return to the field of play. As we have seen with Rugby union, this rule is fraught with danger and open to being abused. We all know how footballers love to feign injury at the best of times!
Yesterday a Perth Glory player went down with cramp, is that an injury? This writer does not believe so, however, coach Gareth Naven believed it was and the referee Peter Chapman agreed and a replacement was allowed onto the field. So cramp must now be termed an injury, rather than a case of inadequate preparation.
Soon after Roar Veteran Bob Malcolm, one of the overage players on the park was given a straight red for telling the referee what he thought when he had been blatantly fouled and Mr Chapman waved play on.
He should have known better, and deserved the red card, even though the referee made a mistake to lead to his frustration. However it raises another question. If this league is about development, should the Roar have been allowed to bring one of their youngsters back on?
Or in such a circumstance would the referee not be better to approach the offending teams bench and advise the coach to make a substitution or face playing on with only 10 men?
Ordinarily we would not raise these issues as they contravene the rules of the game, however if the league is about development and players are already being allowed back on the park after being substituted then maybe they deserve consideration?