Time to Review the NTC in the State League?

When the FFA announced that they intended to have all of their development sides playing in the top competitions of each state, we applauded the concept and were sure that this would ultimately benefit the game as a whole.

Now in its second year in Western Australia, we have grave doubts over the idea.

The lower age structure of the NTC should not be tampered with as it has proven that it is paying dividends with the Under Age sides from Western Australia performing superbly in national age-restricted competitions. This has been extremely positive and has also resulted in WA having more players considered for the Australian Institute of Sport program than previously; a Program that will hopefully improve under the guidance of Tony Vidmar, as it stalled under the control of Dutch coach Jan Versleijen.

The question that arises when it comes to the NTC side playing the in State Premier League is whether it is benefitting all concerned, and whether it is in fact making the players better players.

This season 14 games into the Premier League the NTC have not won a game. Last year was a similar story. If these players are ready for the next step these would not be the results. Losing every week cannot be good for any young player, and we have been advised that some have stated that they no longer are enjoying the game. Which is sad and ultimately could see a young talent walk away from the game, which surely defeats the object of the whole NTC program.

Once these boys reach 17 years of age would these players not be better off playing with grown men rather than against them? Imagine if Ryan Giggs have been held back in the youth team at Manchester United, along with David Beckham and Paul Scholes or Wayne Rooney at Everton, how would their games have progressed?

Pele and Norman Whiteside were playing in World Cup finals at 17. These two players may well be exceptions but it proves that if you are good enough, you’re old enough.

The NTC does serve a vital role in bringing through young talent, but at 17 that talent should be set free. If the A League clubs have spotted a player’s talent, and they should be looking at these boys from the time they are 13 or 14, then they should pick them up and continue their development – Although we believe you have to be 18 to sign for an A league club, but they could be signed to their youth set up.

If the boys have faith in their own abilities and are overlooked in Australia then they can head overseas and try their luck, and should they obtain a contract then the NTC has achieved another success.

Some players however will mature late, and some may never make it to the next level, so the highest they will ever play is in the State League, where they could undoubtedly shine.

By delaying their entry into a man’s world are we not in fact stunting these players development? By having them take the field each weekend and lose are we not destroying their enjoyment of the game?  These and other questions need to be asked and considered seriously, before we lose these players to the game completely.  It certainly would appear that what appeared to be a good idea is one that is in fact currently helping very few.

 

 

Time to Review the NTC in the State League?
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8 thoughts on “Time to Review the NTC in the State League?

  • July 4, 2012 at 10:43 pm
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    VOR I have spoken to a few NTC boys and there is a “tiredness” to them, a lack of joy when they talk about the game. Losing can take its toll no matter what the playing philosophy. I agree that coaches can push winning to much at the junior level but it is foolhardy to ignore the impact of a winning mentality and how can you fully develop that if you simply never win. It is possible to play good football and win but how likely is that when the league is to strong for them to be even competative.

    The concept of the NTC is a good one and I have no doubt the coaching is very good but how it is delivered needs to be looked at and some of the points addressed in the article (as well as Eamons) are good ones.

    And to add to your point about NTC players unlikely to leave, well who would when they know they have limited options if they do.

    Finally playing alongside 25-30 year old men is not about protection but rather it is using their experience to further your development. Ask any ex-pro how vital that component is.

  • July 4, 2012 at 4:26 pm
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    Jan Versleijen, Rob Baan, and Han Berger who were the men behind having the development squads play in the highest league in each state would I am sure have expected the results to be better than they have been thus far. I too felt that they would have been, and when one looks at the big picture, not just the NTC in isolation or the State League in isolation then it needs be reviewed in my opinion.

    Development is, as I think we all agree crucial, and we desperately need too develop coaches so more young players benefit from good coaching but the game is not solely about development. You state it is not about winning and losing, so when does it become about winning?

    You will note in the last paragraph I stated “These and other questions need to be asked and considered seriously,” it is not as simplistic as they are losing so they should not be in the league. There are far more other issues that need to be considered, but like all good operations it is beneficial to constantly review and try and improve.

    As for ‘the few,’ time will tell when we see the percentages of those who have come through the NTC that play for Perth Glory in The A league, Play in Europe in the top Leagues – not Finland and Romania – and play for the Socceroos. Players who play one season of NTC should not be included in these stats as the NTC is supposed to be about long term development. I hope that I am proved wrong, but I believe the number that make it to the highest level will still be relatively low in terms of players coming through the system, because as Rob Baan said to the NTC when he addressed them in Perth, unless we play ten months of the year we will always be chasing our tails. He went on to say that currently the boys in Australia are generally two years behind boys of the same age in Europe.

  • July 4, 2012 at 3:54 pm
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    You say “By delaying their entry into a man’s world are we not in fact stunting these players development? By having them take the field each weekend and lose are we not destroying their enjoyment of the game? These and other questions need to be asked and considered seriously, before we lose these players to the game completely. It certainly would appear that what appeared to be a good idea is one that is in fact currently helping very few”

    You comment that you agree that winning is not the only measure of success… yet you seem to be focussing here on losing as the only measure of failure. I would say that in every way, other that the score sheet, these players, and this programme are succeeding. Sure there will be shouts of ‘but the score is all that matters’ – however when deveopment is the goal the score is irrelevant.

    Indeed if we look at the dinosaurs of English/Australian football coaching juniors and picking teams purely to win leagues, how many big kids who were the stars of their teams because they were big/fast/strong have had their enjoyment of the game destroyed once the rest of the kids caught up to them? Also how many fantastic small players were also lost to the game because they were not being selected because they hadn’t had a growth spurt yet? I know we are talking about state league here and not kids – but its still about development and if you focus solely on winning/losing you lose the ability to develop potential to its fullest.

    I would be very very surprised if any of the NTC 1st team were thinking about giving away the game because they were losing.

    And anyone who thinks the NTC are not playing in a mans world should think about the fact that they are out there being challenged to step up every single time they are on the pitch. Playing in a state league club with a team of 25-30 year olds to protect you would be far less of a challenge.

    Finally I’m not sure on what basis the NTC is currently ‘helping very few’ – maybe you could explain?

  • July 4, 2012 at 3:29 pm
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    Robby, Thanks for your comments. It would appear that you close to somebody involved in the programme and hence are passionate about the NTC and rightly so.

    We refers to “Not The Footy Show.” Personally I do not believe that winning is the only way of measuring success, however it is part of the process on the road to success.

    I have witnessed an NTC training session, and I have never stated that the boys are a bunch of “losers,” I certainly don’t think that and if you had that impression then I think you have misinterpreted the article entirely. I do not believe that they would be part of the NTC programme if they were “losers” as they have to be dedicated and committed, qualities that most losers lack.

    I at no stage mentioned that the State League had been adversely effected by the NTC being involved, although I do feel it makes a mockery of a league table when the bottom team will not be the one relegated. The State League is a very tired beast, and the standard is undoubtedly the lowest it has been since I have been in Western Australia, (25 years), and the reasons for this are many. But I do believe we have to look at the overall picture. Some would say that the NTC has taken the cream of the youth that would have played for some of the state league clubs away from those sides and that is why we have some less talented players playing in the league.

    One suggestion if that was found to be the case would be to lower the number of teams in the Premier league so the talent is more evenly spread and the overall standard of the highest league in the state can be lifted. That is if that was found to be the case following a full assessment.

    Thank you once again for your comments and taking the time to read this site.

  • July 4, 2012 at 2:59 pm
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    Ashley
    couple of Qs for you …
    1. who are the ‘we’ you refer to in your opening para?
    2. is winning your only measure of development or success – is there anything else you can offer or have discovered from talking to a coach at the NTC or AIS or from anywhere else?
    3 have you witnessed an NTC training session? i have, they don’t look like a bunch of losers to me, and they keep coming back for more.

    you offer three examples of players who, according to you, never did something similar. so?

    a few facts for you:
    1. people walk away from the game all the time, sometimes by choice. a hard fact, but thats life and thats football. suggesting that its a problem specific to, or a greater risk to the NTC, is lame.
    2. no player is forced to play for the NTC. they know what they’re signing up for.
    3. the senior NTC team ‘are’ in a ”man’s world”, and very early for some of them. the idea is to speed up their development. no better way to learn at 16 or 17 than to be placed in a pressure cooker. many thrive in it.

    you seem to carry on the local state league grievance that the state league has been adversely impacted by the NTC. what was an average competition, driven mostly by greed, bar sales, and short sighted gambles to succeed, carries on. In many of the NTC games that I’ve seen they;re the only ones playing football. they are wonderful to watch and embody the real spirit of the game.

  • July 4, 2012 at 11:56 am
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    Thank you both of your for your comments. As VOR quite rightly states it is not the only pathway and there are many varied opinions as to what is best for up and coming talent. Nearly all have merits as well as downsides.
    The point we were trying to make, and by highlighting that the under 18 and reserve NTC teams are in deed holding their own in fact supports our argument, that there comes a time when these boys must be let out into the big bad world of senior football. Keeping them in that environment and playing in the State League against men, despite originally believing this would be a good move, our stance has changed.
    This has absolutely nothing to do with the coaching staff, who we agree are first class.
    Most clubs in Europe will not look at a player once he is 19, as they believe “he has too many bad habits by that age.” So if players have not been spotted by then it is our opinion that for their good and that of the game as a whole they would be better playing alongside men in a real environment rather than a cocooned one.

  • July 4, 2012 at 11:25 am
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    Regardless of the ins and outs of whether they play in state league or not, people seem obsessed with the ‘welfare’ of these players and are concerned for them that they are ‘learning how to lose’ What a lot of crap. People forget that two thirds of the programme are playing in the 18s and Ressies, and these teams are not losing every week. I also expect that any of the current first team NTC players could step in and get state league game time at any other club. They are all learning how to play better football. The training is second to none and the coach is recognised by FFA as being the best NTC/State institute coach in the country. From the 96 born players at the NTC there are 2 who have already gone on to the AIS and one more on his way, 6 identified in all-stars teams at national champs in last 2 years, 5 who have represented Australia in the last year and I expect there could be at least 2 more by this time next year. I couldn’t even begin to name how many of the older boys have gone on to sign professional contracts. My point being that this is a great programme for most of these players. I do however appreciate that it is not the only pathway and there is good development and opportunities for many through the clubs, but I wish people would just chill and understand that there doesn’t have to be only 1 way…

  • July 3, 2012 at 11:17 pm
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    Gave my thoughts on this very topic tonight. As far as I am concerned, they can train as a group with the NTC and their coaches for 4 nights a week. On the Wednesday night play a match against any state League side, but not for points, and that counts as Wednesday training and on Thursday night return for training to their state league clubs. At that stage the club coaches decide which team they play in on the Saturday. Be it 18’s, Reserves or 1st team. They gain the spot on their merit, and play with experienced players in a really competitive atmosphere.
    That way they will get the best of both worlds.
    At the moment they are only learning how to lose.

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