Football Youth Development in Australia – Are the right questions being asked?

The development of young footballers in Australia is a hotly debated topic amongst its many stakeholders. With new programs, coaching methodologies, courses and competitions introduced over the last 10 years, the question needs to be asked whether we have been successful in this area or not, and if not what even are the KPI’s for success.

The National Curriculum (NC) and its updates as well as The Football Coaching Process (FCP) and The Whole of Football Plan (WOFP) are great documents and have provided the football public with frameworks and information as well as some direction where there was previously a lack thereof.

However what these documents lack is the detail that is needed at the grassroots level. Having been involved at all levels of the game both in Australia and overseas for this period, clubs and stakeholders need to be asking the right questions of the FFA.

For example:

  • what are the foci of FFA and State Federations – the 1% or the 99% and how are the programs deemed successful or not?
  • Are schools being encouraged to work with clubs/federations to create a better technical players or is the focus still on school competitions and winning the next trophy/tournament?
  • What are the requirements for a player to be selected as part of the National Training Centre/Skilleroos/A-League Youth teams?
  • Why is information regarding the development of young footballers held by federations (National & State) like trade secrets when coaches and clubs are trying to improve these footballers for these programs?
  • How successful has the implementation of the NC, Skill Acquisition Programs and coaching courses been across each of the states?
  • Have club teams across the country improved their ability to play out of the back under pressure into attacking situations?
  • What happened the Club Rating systems that were meant to rate clubs on their youth development programs

These questions and many more are left unanswered and until specific KPI’s, goals and objectives are introduced for National Teams, Federations and clubs in an open & transparent manner, that provides and parents with objective information in regards to the best avenue for their son or daughter, there will be the continued treading of water in this area, in an international environment where the second tier Asian nations are now comfortably outplaying our youth National teams.

The purpose of this post is not to shout for an overhaul or look to bring in the latest Portuguese coaching program, but instead to look at how through effective questioning we can improve our current programs in a highly competitive environment.

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