National Youth League resumes at last
After a hiatus of four years the new National Youth League kicked off again yesterday at Green Gully Reserve when Melbourne Victory went down by two goals to nil to Queensland Roar. The Victory squad was only finalised this week and played like a team which had not practised together.
While it made entire sense for the Football Federation of Australia to concentrate on its A-League and the Socceroos in the first years of its existence, a consequence has been that the career path for young Australian players has been truncated during that time.
Those who were not selected for the Australian Institute of Sport and the equivalent state bodies had no other outlet for their development apart from State league competitions where coaching support and selection in senior teams could be problematical.
Now the ladder of opportunity has been restored.
FFA CEO Ben Buckley said, ‘For more than a decade football has been the sport of first choice for boys from 5-14 years and, now with the establishment of the National Youth League, there is substantial and regular high-level competition in place for talented, male athletes.’
FFA National Technical Director, Dutchman Robert Baan added, ‘The key to improving the technical skills, proficiency and tactical maturity of players is playing games—and as many games as possible. The National Youth League provides players aged between 17-21 years of age a clear pathway from youth leagues to senior level and then on to professional level. When combined with existing State-based competitions, players in the national youth league will play between 35-40 games each year.’
Victory had two Geelong players, Ante Cicak and keeper Mijo Marinovic in the starting line-up. Cicak looked solid in defence but his passing was often awry, while Marinovic had a nonsense [meltdown in Addy] when he tried to dribble around Mitch Nicholls and lost the ball and the goal. Substitute Josh McVey scored the other for Queensland only five minutes after coming on.