Graham Arnold Press Conference
Graham Arnold Press Conference

Time the enemy for future Socceroos

Here is the proof the next generation of Socceroos players aren't getting their time to shine.

Startling new data reveals that game time for under-21 Australian players is at one of its all time lows in the A-League.

The minutes given to players under-21 in the A-League has virtually fallen off a cliff and puts into perspective the gravity of the Olyroos' campaign to qualify for the Olympics for the first time since 2008.

As the Olyroos prepare to take on Bahrain on Wednesday morning (12:15AEDT) in the AFC U/23 Championships new data shows that over the last decade the total accumulated game time for under-21 A-League players has dropped from 40,000 to under 30,000 minutes.

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The Olympic qualification campaign is invaluable experience.
The Olympic qualification campaign is invaluable experience.



A lack of professional opportunities in Australia tightens the ability to produce players akin to the golden generation, an era we look to as the benchmark.

Socceroos and Olyroos boss Graham Arnold says an alternative to the 8-game National Youth League needs to be put in place as quickly as possible.

"I'm not surprised at all [at the figures]" Arnold told The Daily Telegraph from his Olyroos camp in Thailand.

"The A-League clubs aren't spending more money on marquees, so they need to invest in the kids, and invest in where they are.

"If the kids aren't good enough, give them somewhere to play. This is why a reserve league would work, instead of just eight games in the National Youth League.

"If they're not good enough, you could have a 28-game reserve league where they can develop."



Arnold has seen the chances for young players decrease. Photo: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images
Arnold has seen the chances for young players decrease. Photo: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images


In the A-League, playing youngsters more often than not means you aren't challenging for silverware. Six out of nine seasons in the last decade saw teams finishing in the top two, give the least amount of minutes to young players.

Arnold believes the current structure isn't sufficient to becoming a football nation that can reach its potential.

The Y-League was previously a 24-game season in the 2009/10 season, but it has slowly been chipped away to just an eight matches.

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Talk of an increase in foreigners in the A-League have called Arnold to plead club executives to halt plans of more imported talent.

"Nope. Not when there is only 10 or 11 teams and not without a national second division or a third division," said Arnold.

"Where are the kids going to play? Besides the A-League we don't have anything else that's professional."

The overhaul of the youth pathways is as much a problem for the A-League clubs as it is the FFA. A-League executives hold the task of making a decision on the structure of the youth league, while the CEO James Johnson will look to streamline success at the grassroots level.