It was good to see Robbie Dunn’s Western Australian state team squad to take on the Perth Glory contain more local players rather than the glut of overseas players we witnessed in the last squad for this game. The state team should be, as stated previously, open only to players who have residency in Australia, as they can then progress to the A league if they catch a coach’s eye.
In all reality very few of the players here on visas are going to be snapped up, as with limited visa positions available in the A League squads, coaches are going to plump for players with a little more pedigree.
It was interesting to see the squad announced this week, the same week that Jonathan Cook from the West Australian newspaper wrote two pieces on young Western Australian talent heading overseas, the Williams boys and also the Edwards brothers.
The lure of European football is always going to take players with talent and the right mental attitude away from Australia and the A League, and if we think otherwise we are kidding ourselves.
We should in fact welcome such opportunities, as it opens up doors for more local players. The players that have been given the chance in Europe, are not in the A League, Youth League, NTC or AIS systems which means that other talented players get to take their place, which in turn gives Australia a greater talent pool from which to pick its national teams. Which is a benefit to the game of football on all levels.
In the West’s article on the Edwards brothers who have joined Reading, their father, ex Socceroo Alistair Edwards,whose role with the Football Federation Australia is to help improve playing standards in Australia made some very pertinent points.
The first being that the 10 team A League does not cater for the number of players that we are currently producing in Australia. Which he stated means that we have to create more opportunities for young players to stay in Australia.
He is also quoted as saying “We want to encourage our players to stay in the country, my advice to them, and to all players, is to try and stay here in the A-League first and then if they got the opportunity to go overseas later, that’s when they should look at it.”
There is no doubt the timing of a player’s move to Europe is crucial, and so too is their preparation. Far too many talented players have been sent over to clubs by managers and clubs looking to make a dollar out of the young player, but they have often sent him when he is not ready, and in some cases players’ careers have been destroyed.
This however brings me back to the State League team, and what has become an annual game against the Perth Glory. With the Glory having employed the state league’s most successful coach in recent years to recruit local talent, should Graham Normanton maybe not have had a say in the State team selection or even been coach or assistant?
Should also this fixture not be a case of Football West and Perth Glory looking to identify players under 23 or at most under 25 who are capable of stepping up to the A League, to see how they perform against full time professionals? This game should be about opening some of those doors that Alistair Edwards talks about.
It should be about showcasing the talent coming through, not those players who are now too old to be considered for an A League club.
When Western Australia plays another state or visiting teams from Overseas that is when we field a side that is at full strength and showcases the talent of all players in the league. This game should surely be about helping those talented young players make the next step.