It was the Greek philosopher Aristotle who said “Youth is easily deceived because it is quick to hope.” With the Socceroos in a dip in terms of success, many young players will be hoping that they can catch the eye of new coach Ange Postecoglou and claim a spot in the national side.
The universal cry at the moment is that it is time to bring through youth, the next generation of players, but are these young ambitious players being deceived? The cry for youth all sounds great but are the FFA and the A-League clubs, -with possibly the exception of Alistair Edwards Perth Glory, – serious about giving youth a chance.
The National Youth League season for 2013/14 started at the weekend, a competition that is meant to showcase the next generation of A League players, yet who knew it was starting?
Not one A-League club sent out a press release to state that the competition was starting. The Football Federation of Australia did not even send out a press release to make people aware that it was starting. What does that tell you?
Many of the A-League franchise owners have said they do not agree with the Youth League, that it is simply an unnecessary drain on resources, but surely as long as the competition exists it should be promoted. Some clubs actually used it to great effect, namely Melbourne Victory and Gold Coast United.
This may well be the last year of the National Youth League as the NPL competitions around the country will include teams from the A-League clubs or teams branded under their umbrella; even though the senior NPL team cannot compete under the same name as their A-League counterparts according to FIFA. regulations!
The National Youth League may have been a costly exercise, but how much time did the FFA and the clubs invest in trying to cover costs by way of sponsorship and media coverage? The structure of the competition has also been questioned and this too should have been reviewed and a more manageable format created. It will be a great shame if the competition does indeed shut down, as many of the younger players in the A-League came through that system.
Without the Youth League where the next generation of young footballers is going to come from? The restructure of the State League competitions around the country under the National Premier Leagues banner has seen the cost for juniors to play football in Western Australia rise from $300 to $800 a season.
Maybe those running the game are unaware of the worldwide recession. Maybe they are also unaware that even the ‘booming’ mining companies in Western Australia are laying off staff, as the economy starts to come in line with the rest of the world. With bills still remaining the same, many parents simply cannot afford an increase of this size, especially families with more than one child playing the game. Rather than raising standards and bringing more people to the game this single move will see hundreds of children leave the game.
Football has always been one of the simplest games to play. For that reason it has also always been a game for the masses. With participation fees being increased and children being forced to pay to be a part of the high performance programs, football is sadly becoming an elitist sport in Australia and moving away from its very roots.
The warning signs are there. If you thought the stocks were low at the moment, if the Youth League is scrapped and fees are kept at these levels expect the playing stocks to be even more scarce in five years time.