Youth development in Australia, where did it all go wrong?


Youth development in Australia, where did it all go wrong?

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As much as I hated the way football was run in Australia in the past (especially the NSL era), one thing I will say, Australian youth football teams would regularly qualify for numerous FIFA tournaments and the Olympics, where they were very competitive. But over the last 15 or so years, the standard of our youth teams has gone to shit, where did it all go wrong?

I know in the past we had the AIS in Canberra where there was a football division, is this still around?

Since the A-League clubs have been given control of football (as we are led to believe), what plans do the A-League owners have for youth development?, eg. the setting up of youth acedemies.

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Sebr1968 - 25 Aug 2019 3:28 PM
As much as I hated the way football was run in Australia in the past (especially the NSL era), one thing I will say, Australian youth football teams would regularly qualify for numerous FIFA tournaments and the Olympics, where they were very competitive. But over the last 15 or so years, the standard of our youth teams has gone to shit, where did it all go wrong?

I know in the past we had the AIS in Canberra where there was a football division, is this still around?

Since the A-League clubs have been given control of football (as we are led to believe), what plans do the A-League owners have for youth development?, eg. the setting up of youth acedemies.

The A-league clubs haven't been given control of football.  They will own the professional leagues when the documentation is finalised.

The AIS football program no longer exists.

All A-League clubs have to have academies in place by 2019.
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Why should it be up to the HAL clubs to produce the next lot of kids for youth age competitions? The State feds and there clubs need to pull there finger out and make things happen. 

Wellington Phoenix FC

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When the NSL collapsed it did have an impact on youth development and both disrupted, dismantled and at best paused what we had before. And while we stagnated other countries didn’t. 

I love the (often repeated) comment “we used to regularly qualify for youth tournaments” which ignores the reality that the world has become more competitive and what we did back then occurred in a narrower competitive pool. You can still see a hangover from this when we play sides like Malaysia and Vietnam and people expwcting us to win, and win well. 

Lowy had no interest in competing with the rest of the world - so the A League was held in a straight jacket and barred from developing youth, the AIS was a bit of a sham and finished a very narrow talent developed by the States, and over the past twenty years kids abandoned street football for FIFA on the Xbox. Times changed and we didn’t. 

Then the FFA centralised coaching qualifications and as participation boomed the number of coaches didn’t and the number of experienced coaches with qualifications was insufficient 

How and why ‘pay for play’ was developed and became ubiquitous is anyone’s guess - but as it did we ended up with the kids of wealthy middle class parents in development squads and they weren’t quite good enough while the rest of the kids were left to Dad-coaches. 

All is not lost but it’s been painful. 



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Waz - 25 Aug 2019 5:33 PM
When the NSL collapsed it did have an impact on youth development and both disrupted, dismantled and at best paused what we had before. And while we stagnated other countries didn’t. 

I love the (often repeated) comment “we used to regularly qualify for youth tournaments” which ignores the reality that the world has become more competitive and what we did back then occurred in a narrower competitive pool. You can still see a hangover from this when we play sides like Malaysia and Vietnam and people expwcting us to win, and win well. 

Lowy had no interest in competing with the rest of the world - so the A League was held in a straight jacket and barred from developing youth, the AIS was a bit of a sham and finished a very narrow talent developed by the States, and over the past twenty years kids abandoned street football for FIFA on the Xbox. Times changed and we didn’t. 

Then the FFA centralised coaching qualifications and as participation boomed the number of coaches didn’t and the number of experienced coaches with qualifications was insufficient 

How and why ‘pay for play’ was developed and became ubiquitous is anyone’s guess - but as it did we ended up with the kids of wealthy middle class parents in development squads and they weren’t quite good enough while the rest of the kids were left to Dad-coaches. 

All is not lost but it’s been painful. 



+1 and add in we used to qualified through Oceania which was a lot easier 
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Divine Right - 25 Aug 2019 6:14 PM
Waz - 25 Aug 2019 5:33 PM

+1 and add in we used to qualified through Oceania which was a lot easier 

the point remains, we were very competitive against all nations, at one point we were the 4th best performed country in the history of the U20 WC, but now we struggle against Asian minnows (who would get flogged by the better Euro/Sth American countries)

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bettega - 25 Aug 2019 6:46 PM
Divine Right - 25 Aug 2019 6:14 PM

the point remains, we were very competitive against all nations, at one point we were the 4th best performed country in the history of the U20 WC, but now we struggle against Asian minnows (who would get flogged by the better Euro/Sth American countries)

Just because we lose in qualification doesn’t mean we would in the final tournament. 


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Started long time ago when in their wisdom the Federation introduced a system where kids played for fun instead of winning. Goals were not to be recorded and the awarding of points for a win or a draw was also done away with. Competition from matches was eliminated as was the fierce desire to win at all cost. Then we saw the introduction small pitches where kids were meant to get more touches and produce better players. (Has it?) Then it was the NPL where only the rich could afford to participate in this competition. The tried and tested Super Leagues that served the game so well in Victoria disappeared. The old Super Leagues saw  the best teams play against each other every week, but this was replaced by a competition that has been so unbalanced (scorewise) it has been detrimental to the game. Then it became a requirement for every coach to have a license to coach and even though some didn't know a thing about the game as long as you had this bit of paper you became a coach. There are other issues that has contributed to poor player developement but I'll leave it at that for now. 
Edited
3 Months Ago by Atlas
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nomates - 25 Aug 2019 4:09 PM
Why should it be up to the HAL clubs to produce the next lot of kids for youth age competitions? The State feds and there clubs need to pull there finger out and make things happen. 

Here you have the crux of the problem.

Owners are so small minded that they can't put a 5 year plan in place to develop young talented players to sell for big $$$$ each year.

A proper plan would be to hire the best youth coaches in the country, sign the best prospects in the country and develop them at a high level.
Slowly integrate them into the first team and if they prove themselves, sell them on each year bring through another talented group.

Club gets big money coming in each year and the NT gets the rewards of a constant stream of new players each year or so.

It's not that complicated.

This constant buying foreign C grade pensioners is unsustainable for the clubs, the league and the national team.


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Atlas - 25 Aug 2019 7:30 PM
Started long time ago when in their wisdom the Federation introduced a system where kids played for fun instead of winning. Goals were not to be recorded and the awarding of points for a win or a draw was also done away with. Competition from matches was eliminated as was the fierce desire to win at all cost. Then we saw the introduction small pitches where kids were meant to get more touches and produce better players. (Has it?) Then it was the NPL where only the rich could afford to participate in this competition. The tried and tested Super Leagues that served the game so well in Victoria disappeared. The old Super Leagues saw  the best teams play against each other every week, but this was replaced by a competition that has been so unbalanced (scorewise) it has been detrimental to the game. Then it became a requirement for every coach to have a license to coach and even though some didn't know a thing about the game as long as you had this bit of paper you became a coach. There are other issues that has contributed to poor player developement but I'll leave it at that for now. 

And there you repeat one of the biggest myths in Australian football. It’s not true. 

This is how it works: 

Up to Under 7’s - small sides football with results not recorded. 

U8-U11 - results recorded, win/loss celebrated but no league ladder

U12 upwards - Result recorded, Full league ladder, end of season finals series 



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sethman75 - 26 Aug 2019 2:31 AM
nomates - 25 Aug 2019 4:09 PM

Here you have the crux of the problem.

Owners are so small minded that they can't put a 5 year plan in place to develop young talented players to sell for big $$$$ each year.

A proper plan would be to hire the best youth coaches in the country, sign the best prospects in the country and develop them at a high level.
Slowly integrate them into the first team and if they prove themselves, sell them on each year bring through another talented group.

Club gets big money coming in each year and the NT gets the rewards of a constant stream of new players each year or so.

It's not that complicated.

This constant buying foreign C grade pensioners is unsustainable for the clubs, the league and the national team.


The crux of the problem has not been the A League club’s. They have been banned from operating academies until this last year. 

A League club’s were forced to work with State NTS and nationally the AIS, why is another debate but Barcelona could run an Australian academy but Brisbane couldn’t. 

Since the regulations were changed several clubs have invested and two - Roar/WSW - operate free Acadamies ending pay-for-play ... both faced local opposition in doing it though. 
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Waz - 26 Aug 2019 7:11 AM
sethman75 - 26 Aug 2019 2:31 AM

The crux of the problem has not been the A League club’s. They have been banned from operating academies until this last year. 

A League club’s were forced to work with State NTS and nationally the AIS, why is another debate but Barcelona could run an Australian academy but Brisbane couldn’t. 

Since the regulations were changed several clubs have invested and two - Roar/WSW - operate free Acadamies ending pay-for-play ... both faced local opposition in doing it though. 

All 4 NSW A-League clubs have had academies since 2015. Sydney, Wanderers and Mariners were the first clubs to get FFA 2 Star accreditations for their academies in 2017 and Jets were in the 2nd group of clubs to get accreditation along with Roar.  I know Victory and City were held up getting accreditation by not having their junior teams in FV competitions and Adelaide I believe still has that problem with FFSA.  I think Glory have had their academy going for a number of years but I don't know where they are with accreditation.

The transition from the system established under the FFA Member Federation Charter (2010) to a club based development system began as a result of the Whole of Football Plan in 2015 and the requirements set down in the FFA Strategic Plan (2016-19).  The accreditation system is open to clubs outside the A-League but NPL clubs have found it too costly for them to meet the criteria for accreditation.  Hopefully it is made mandatory for the 2nd division clubs.

Its good to see progress and with 2 new A-League clubs coming on line there will be about 1,000 players in the new system soon.



Edited
3 Months Ago by Gyfox
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When you put football & subsequently football development in the hand of those with corporate minds this is what you get.  

If football development was quantified by meaningless reviews & meaningless curriculums without any accountability at all then Australia would have won the World Cup several times over by now.  



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In the past decade, Australia has fallen behind in a lot of sports when compared to the rest of the world. There’s a dangerous complacency that’s arisen from our self declared title of being a ‘sporting mad nation’. We love saying it but we’ve very much failed to act upon it.

Look at swimming - we used to be the undisputed powerhouse along with the US, now we’re flat out even making the podium (or final). Our Olympic team on the whole has underperformed for a while now compared to our past athletes.

Football has always had its own issues but I think a lot of them now are indicative of the general sporting landscape in Australia. Politics and money constantly hamstringing development and progress.

Can’t agree with you Waz about the competitive myth. I think it’s definitely a factor. We’ve PC’d the shit out of our junior sport and none of these kids have any ticker anymore - compared to the kids coming through the ranks from other countries anyway.
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CHEP - 26 Aug 2019 9:17 AM
In the past decade, Australia has fallen behind in a lot of sports when compared to the rest of the world. There’s a dangerous complacency that’s arisen from our self declared title of being a ‘sporting mad nation’. We love saying it but we’ve very much failed to act upon it. Look at swimming - we used to be the undisputed powerhouse along with the US, now we’re flat out even making the podium (or final). Our Olympic team on the whole has underperformed for a while now compared to our past athletes.Football has always had its own issues but I think a lot of them now are indicative of the general sporting landscape in Australia. Politics and money constantly hamstringing development and progress. Can’t agree with you Waz about the competitive myth. I think it’s definitely a factor. We’ve PC’d the shit out of our junior sport and none of these kids have any ticker anymore - compared to the kids coming through the ranks from other countries anyway.
I was referring to the structure of the competitions which do not PC the competitive nature. 

Schools, society and possibly individual clubs may have tried to do that though. But let’s not blame the fact we don’t have U6 Miniroos ladders 


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CHEP - 26 Aug 2019 9:17 AM
In the past decade, Australia has fallen behind in a lot of sports when compared to the rest of the world. There’s a dangerous complacency that’s arisen from our self declared title of being a ‘sporting mad nation’. We love saying it but we’ve very much failed to act upon it. Look at swimming - we used to be the undisputed powerhouse along with the US, now we’re flat out even making the podium (or final). Our Olympic team on the whole has underperformed for a while now compared to our past athletes.Football has always had its own issues but I think a lot of them now are indicative of the general sporting landscape in Australia. Politics and money constantly hamstringing development and progress. Can’t agree with you Waz about the competitive myth. I think it’s definitely a factor. We’ve PC’d the shit out of our junior sport and none of these kids have any ticker anymore - compared to the kids coming through the ranks from other countries anyway.

Watched 2 games of NPL yesterday, 14's and 16's and would disagree with the bolded statement above.

Pretty high standard and very competitive.

It's a way better standard than anything I played as a kid.

Yes suburban football is a mixed bag but a lot of kids just want to play for fun with their mates so I don't think that's a fair comparison. 




Member since 2008.


Edited
3 Months Ago by Munrubenmuz
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Where did it go wrong? I think it’s a case of the era where the FFA decided the game should start from year zero in the aleague and remove the NSL and all the good the junior development it did have that’s worked really well.

Its telling their baby the FFA NC has been slow to see results and I think overall it’s been the lack of investment into the game whilst the rest of the football world has evolved it’s junior development pouring millions and time into it each year.

A lot has to do on our side but also the global context should be considered in all of this.

We had a useful system with the AIS, NTC System whilst having a better youth structure before the NSL but maybe the changes were too drastic given the structure and pathways underneath the aleague are quite poor.

I think it’s fair to say where the FFA put too much time on the aleague and less and pathways below and now we are kind of paying the price at youth level and even at Socceroos level.

Not hope is lost though as we always developed good talent but struggled to convert that potential talent into quality international players.

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Barca4Life - 26 Aug 2019 10:04 AM
Where did it go wrong? I think it’s a case of the era where the FFA decided the game should start from year zero in the aleague and remove the NSL and all the good the junior development it did have that’s worked really well.

Its telling their baby the FFA NC has been slow to see results and I think overall it’s been the lack of investment into the game whilst the rest of the football world has evolved it’s junior development pouring millions and time into it each year.

A lot has to do on our side but also the global context should be considered in all of this.

We had a useful system with the AIS, NTC System whilst having a better youth structure before the NSL but maybe the changes were too drastic given the structure and pathways underneath the aleague are quite poor.

I think it’s fair to say where the FFA put too much time on the aleague and less and pathways below and now we are kind of paying the price at youth level and even at Socceroos level.

Not hope is lost though as we always developed good talent but struggled to convert that potential talent into quality international players.

I disagree. The FFA didn’t put enough time into the A League which is why it’s imploding. That’s the problem with the centralised model - you can’t put enough time anywhere - A League or otherwise. 

Plus the A League have been specifically excluded from youth development and only expected to blood youngsters 18+ after they graduate AIS

Although I agree with you the FFA hasn’t focussed enough in this area. In theory the new model should allow the FFA to concentrate on youth development from age 4 upwards. It’s alarming though to see they might be running the NSD which suggests someone hasn’t learned past lessons. 

Lastly, we’ve never been good at youth development - if you took the list of golden generation that people always use to say we were good once to any football nation they’d laugh at you and say - “is that it??” 

The more we look to a failed past the more we risk making the same mistakes. Youth development was hamstring by pompous  club committees who allowed nepotism to flourish; political local football administrations more concerned with stopping their neighboring association getting something they didn’t have than advancing football, and a national administration that was basically just rooted 
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Yes bring back those great heady days where we qualified for every youth cup but failed to qualify for the world cups.

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Waz - 25 Aug 2019 5:33 PM
When the NSL collapsed it did have an impact on youth development and both disrupted, dismantled and at best paused what we had before. And while we stagnated other countries didn’t. 

I love the (often repeated) comment “we used to regularly qualify for youth tournaments” which ignores the reality that the world has become more competitive and what we did back then occurred in a narrower competitive pool. You can still see a hangover from this when we play sides like Malaysia and Vietnam and people expwcting us to win, and win well. 

Lowy had no interest in competing with the rest of the world - so the A League was held in a straight jacket and barred from developing youth, the AIS was a bit of a sham and finished a very narrow talent developed by the States, and over the past twenty years kids abandoned street football for FIFA on the Xbox. Times changed and we didn’t. 

Then the FFA centralised coaching qualifications and as participation boomed the number of coaches didn’t and the number of experienced coaches with qualifications was insufficient 

How and why ‘pay for play’ was developed and became ubiquitous is anyone’s guess - but as it did we ended up with the kids of wealthy middle class parents in development squads and they weren’t quite good enough while the rest of the kids were left to Dad-coaches. 

All is not lost but it’s been painful. 



Agree with the rest but I don't buy the argument highlighted in bold. If this were a factor then why are 1st world countries like Belgium leaping ahead of many developing nations when it comes to player development?

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Sebr1968 - 25 Aug 2019 3:28 PM
As much as I hated the way football was run in Australia in the past (especially the NSL era), one thing I will say, Australian youth football teams would regularly qualify for numerous FIFA tournaments and the Olympics, where they were very competitive. But over the last 15 or so years, the standard of our youth teams has gone to shit, where did it all go wrong?

Oceania having a guaranteed place at the various "junior" world cups was a factor.




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robbos - 26 Aug 2019 11:36 AM
Yes bring back those great heady days where we qualified for every youth cup but failed to qualify for the world cups.

https://www.smh.com.au/sport/soccer/fifa-world-cup-expansion-why-australia-should-consider-going-back-to-oceania-20170111-gtp692.html

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Without doubt the worst all-time take from The 'Cock. The cancer must def have been rotting his brains for him to arrive at such a conclusion.


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sydneyfc1987 - 26 Aug 2019 12:19 PM
Waz - 25 Aug 2019 5:33 PM

Agree with the rest but I don't buy the argument highlighted in bold. If this were a factor then why are 1st world countries like Belgium leaping ahead of many developing nations when it comes to player development?

TBH I think you are actually agreeing with him. Belgium did change but we didn't. I believe the Belgium FA introduce a ball mastery programme in selected schools over there to complement what the professional clubs where doing in their academies and this has had a direct link to their current golden generation. They were basically training an extra 3 mornings a week before school and purely working on technique.

For what it is worth I agree with Muzz above. I have had 4 kids play football at NPL and Association level and I have seen huge improvements at both levels of the game over the space of about 13 years. There is plenty of young talented footballers coming through but not enough opportunity at the professional level. Also you can't worry too much about what we are doing at youth level as the talent pool is so large and so hard to line up that selection of the best is a very difficult process. 
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Tommy Juric’s 17 yo cousin Noah Botic signing a 2 year deal in the Budasleague with Hoffenhiem. 

Damned system corrupting our kids ... once upon a time they’d turn Germany down to qualify in Oceania rant rave rant rave ...
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Although Adelaide’s hierarchy have long held high hopes for Toure, a former Croydon Kings talent, the club had more vigorously highlighted the first-team prospects of Carlo Armiento, Louis D’Arrigo and Lachlan Brook to Verbeek when he arrived in the City of Churches in July.

But Toure immediately grabbed the attention of the 57-year-old ex-Eredivisie man.

excert taken from https://www.a-league.com.au/news/toure-keeps-leaving-verbeek-surprised-unlikely-rise-adelaide-first-team

This is a big issue and a constant issue not been talked about.

often its not how talented you are or how you perform on field, but rather who you have in your corner off field whether it be hierarchy or agents that are well connected. A lot of talented players have been released simply due to not having the right backing unfortunately their on field performances go unnoticed. In steps a coach who doesn't talk politics and against suggestions gives a genuinely talented player a go. what do you know he performs quite well.




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1. We were in Oceania, which made qualifying easier.

2. Africa and Asia were both rubbish in the 90s. They have now caught up and so are no longer easy beats in the comps, whilst our young blokes have extremely stiff competition for club spots overseas.

3. At youth level, we used to play a lot more physically and this allowed us to win games even when we were inferior skill wise. Now that we are trying to play through skill and not rely on strength at junior levels, we aren't performing as well (even though the skill levels are arguably better).

4. The A-League/lack of second division doesn't provide enough opportunities for youngsters, and so they don't get enough game time to develop.

I don't know what percentage I'd assign to each 4, but all 4 have played a big factor IMO.

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neverwozza - 26 Aug 2019 3:08 PM
sydneyfc1987 - 26 Aug 2019 12:19 PM

TBH I think you are actually agreeing with him. Belgium did change but we didn't. I believe the Belgium FA introduce a ball mastery programme in selected schools over there to complement what the professional clubs where doing in their academies and this has had a direct link to their current golden generation. They were basically training an extra 3 mornings a week before school and purely working on technique.

For what it is worth I agree with Muzz above. I have had 4 kids play football at NPL and Association level and I have seen huge improvements at both levels of the game over the space of about 13 years. There is plenty of young talented footballers coming through but not enough opportunity at the professional level. Also you can't worry too much about what we are doing at youth level as the talent pool is so large and so hard to line up that selection of the best is a very difficult process. 

I'm with you with your 2nd paragraph, not enough opportunity is a huge issue.
Our football level has improved watching from the sideline for I also have had 2 kids play PL, the 2nd @ 19yrs so I have been around it for a while having gone through Youth as well.
No point going on about the past nowadays, whats done is done.
What I have seen over my years is our coaching "system" should be better and more provided to PL2/3 for thats where your next in line can develop from.
Current system imo has stifled out individual brilliance and turned some players into robots, play out from the back and do the same same every single play, what has happened to shuffling the cards and allowing game breakers do it.
Yes there sure is some talented kids but depending on the club TD x player gets berated not playing to the game plan.
Surely when you are seeing a player of considerable talent/skill if they express themselves through a game (depending when) you should encourage it and more so IF he gets a shot in ! compared to having to keep playing war pass's till your in the 6yard box for a tap in.
The other issue mentioned is the "club internal politics and motives" they have held back so much over the years.....so many in Club Admin are just 2faced crook full stop.
Clubs need to identify this and weed them out for their own good, its not just about the money/xyz's son etcetc......
Another point it wasn't that expensive back in the day, been mentioned countless times as well, were pushing out farfarfar too many potentials due to costs, some parents just can't shelve out $2k + for Johnny.



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Kamaryn - 26 Aug 2019 3:43 PM
1. We were in Oceania, which made qualifying easier.

2. Africa and Asia were both rubbish in the 90s. They have now caught up and so are no longer easy beats in the comps, whilst our young blokes have extremely stiff competition for club spots overseas.

3. At youth level, we used to play a lot more physically and this allowed us to win games even when we were inferior skill wise. Now that we are trying to play through skill and not rely on strength at junior levels, we aren't performing as well (even though the skill levels are arguably better).

4. The A-League/lack of second division doesn't provide enough opportunities for youngsters, and so they don't get enough game time to develop.

I don't know what percentage I'd assign to each 4, but all 4 have played a big factor IMO.

What are you doing here??? You are making far too much sense for this thread.

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