Abrams: Youth League season shortened by finances

FFA Technical Director Eric Abrams has admitted that the National Youth League competition is not long enough and the reason it was shortened was because of financial reasons.

At eight rounds the NYL is now the shortest elite competition in Australia.

The youth competition was previously an 18 round home and away season but the structure was changed this season. 

Abrams who oversees Australia’s player pathway system says that logistics and expenses forced the FFA to reduce the National Youth League season.

“With the establishment of the National Youth League with ten teams everyone was travelling around and it was a lot of cost,” he said.

“My thing in it was how effective is what we are doing?

“If for example Central Coast Mariners NYL team has to play in Perth, they leave on Saturday morning at three or four o’clock they arrive at 11-12pm in Perth, they eat a quick lunch, they play a game and after the game they come back.

"For me this is not the environment and not the conditions to play a high level game. So if you put all this money in games like this or travel cost like this you have to ask what is the most effective. And it’s absolutely not effective.”

Abrams also admitted if all the A-League clubs had a satisfactory youth structure then the NYL would be longer.

“To be honest the competition is not long enough,” he said.

“And it is maybe a little too early because not all the A-League clubs have their academies and if they did then we could solve it. 

“I see the split in the two conferences also a challenge and an opportunity to broaden our NYL competition with NYL teams maybe from the better NPL clubs. 

Now that the NYL has finished each A-League club will take part in the senior divisions of their respective state premier league. Teams like Sydney FC and Western Sydney Wanders will play teams in the NPL 1 - the third tier of Australian football.

Over the weekend the Western Sydney Wanderers youth side thrashed Marconi in their first match in the NPL 1 8-0.

Raul Blanco, who spent more than 20 years involved in Australia’s national youth and senior team set up, says the new NYL structure will have a negative impact on youth development.

“It’s too difficult to understand that anybody will do that,” he said. 

“You can’t tell anybody in the world that yeah our youth teams - our U20’s are playing eight games a year. What we are doing is we are punishing the young players in this country. Then the consequences are paid by Aurelio Vidmar and Ange Postecoglou because there’s not enough talented players coming through.”

Blanco added: “Kids who are going to represent the Wanderers in their NYL team are now inches away from making a step up, they have to be provided with the strongest competition they can get. 

“If it becomes easy and they start to win games in an easy way the benefit is just that they play many more games.

“The lack of competition is a very important issue.”

Con Stamocostas is an Australian football writer. Click here to see more of his work and check out the latest episode of his A-League Snobcast with co-host Rob Toddler.

1 comment


Mr. Abrams it is the fault of The FFA. Why shorten Youth Development Squads, yet continue to run a Womens League and EVEN PAY THEM, I believe, if The FFA is short of money. The FFA should stop trying to vie with developed Football Countries and at this stage FULLY develop Mens and Youth Football, to eventually benefit The International Team, then develop the Womens game. It is the Women who should be playing locally and the money saved, put to running "A" League Reserve Teams.