The Perth Glory Youth had an outstanding season built on consistency and team work. They made the Grand Final after finishing second on the league ladder and beating Adelaide in the semi final. Sadly they lost that after taking the lead through a Dean Evans thunderbolt that is increasing in range every week. But it took a piece of magic from Gold Coast United’s special talent Tahj Minnecon, who incidentally already has a first team contract. Gold Coast in fact fielded two players from their first team squad while Perth had none.
As Captain Steve Hesketh stated on “Not The Footy Show” last week, he believed that last year the team had more individual talent with the likes of Andrija Jukic and Anthony Skorich, but this year the team gelled and played as a unit.
Those two players moved up to the first team and picked up two year contracts along with Brent Griffiths and Howard Fondyke. Jukic played first team football this season while Skorich spent time on the sidelines with injuries. Fondyke and Griffiths failed to make the breakthrough to the first team bench.
Which raises the question should A league clubs be signing youth team players on two year contracts, or should they sign them to one year deals with a rolling option for two?
Obviously, parents and players alike are going to want their the best possible deal that they can get, but sometimes a two year deal can be more like a prison sentence. Fondyke and Griffiths are going to struggle to improve their standing at the club in the next year, so are their careers going to benefit from being a squad player, or would they benefit from playing elsewhere, even if the league may not be of the same standard? After all if you are a professional in any sport, you need to be playing your sport.
By signing three or four players to two year deals, it also means, as is the case this year, that there are no positions for the next year’s talent to make the step up to the first team, if any are perceived good enough.
It is often a game of roulette, a player who is outstanding at seventeen can be finished at twenty, whereas often there are late bloomers. The coach is on a hiding to nothing, but surely the one year option is a better one for both the club and the player? It may even help in Perth’s case see more Western Australian players make the grade in the A league with Perth Glory.
There is no definitive answer, but both parties need to show caution before committing.