As the Socceroos bowed out of the World Cup, it brought up the important discussion of youth development in Australia.
Already, this is a concern as players are set to miss out on vital development and opportunities to improve on their football skills because of where they live. There are talented players from untapped regions without NPL programs, regions where players like Sam Kerr, Lisa De Vanna, Lydia Williams and Ellie Carpenter originated from. How many of these potential stars have we missed because of lack of same NPL regional programs available to metropolitan areas?
Along with this NPL is competing with local leagues who have fees of around $500 compared to NPL which is upwards of $1,500 a season. This has meant that it's not always the best young footballers playing in the competition but those who have the funds to do so.
While NPL isn't be all and end all in football, everyone should have the opportunity and choice to play in the competition.
Now we come to the clubs. Some clubs do have a prominent focus on their women's teams or treat their female players equal to the men, which is great to see, but unfortunately, some clubs simply choose to focus on their men's teams.
This leads to inequality at clubs which in turn make female players feel as though they are not valued, an issue which has been pointed out previously. However, on the opposite end, there are clubs who splash some cash to buy their women's players. It's great to see clubs have financial capability do this but if they win the competition because they brought a number of visa players, is it benefiting the development of players in that area?
You could argue that they bring experience but could these funds be used to subsidise players that cannot afford the fees?
In most cases when these situations happen, it seems that it leads to blowout score’s where 8-0 or higher is not uncommon and while the winners are grinners the teams on the end of these score lines lose morale and confidence.
I guess this is character building, we all have to deal with losing but does it develop skill and build technical ability?
If players do not see the light at the end of the tunnel will they keep going? How are they going to improve? Why would they want to continue to be in the game?
All we end up with is questions, and it takes us further down the unknown path.