I like the review. Any review is a good one as it means serious people are thinking about our game.
One part of the review I think is a bit of a red herring is the obsession with participation and keeping players in the game. This seems to be conventional wisdom accepted by the masses.
I reckon this is driven by senior managers who have KPI's around 'revenue' and hence the drive for participation. From a parents, and previous player perspective, I won't be judging the success of my kids youth years by how long he/she sticks with soccer. From a holistic approach we do want our kids to remain active but sometimes leaving for a while, trying something else, doing a sport that is less competitive and less time consuming is entirely appropriate. Kids only have so much energy. So the choice could be to be pretty good at soccer (NPL level) which still involves 5 days per week in a pretty intense and stressful environment, and be pretty good at school (or any other interests kids invariably have).
The other excellent option is to step back from the competitive team environment and maybe concentrate energy on study or step back into community soccer or other sports, like running, cycling, swimming etc that don't require these kids to commit to the rigours of such a structured environment.
The conventional wisdom that players dropping out of the system is a disaster doesn't also factor into the account that team sport (soccer included) isn't always 'fun'! Playing at a high level required dedication and commitment and as the kids get older it becomes more and more competitive. Some kids love that environment but I reckon lots of these kids probably don't need that layer of stress and make the wise decision to try something new.
So although I would like my kids to stick with certain activities, sometimes trying something new is the best result. I would guess that if we were to dig down into the figures quoted in the report - most of the kids dropping out have done so with sound judgement.
I also reckon that many of the best 10-14 year olds drop out (again normal) because they realise their is very little pathway to playing the professional game (a-league clubs). These kids are usually motivated / smart kids and when they see no real carrot (and hear stories of great youth players not making an a-league squad) then risk vs reward has to come into play. If the child is happy and motivated to play NPL then that is a different story. My guess is 100 pct of NPL kids dream of playing in the a-league or Europe