Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Department of Youth – update, Part 2

Back to Les Murray’s “youth crisis” piece. His depiction of the young Australians attempting to crack into the European club scene is quite Dickensian:

“…mediocre, low division clubs in Europe that offer neither decent money nor a guarantee of a future…”

Let’s look at the other side of the coin.

James Troisi, Shane Lowry and Rostyn Griffiths are three young Australians currently plying their trade at Premiership clubs in England. They are making good progress, and a couple of them are even pushing for a first-team place.

And, incidentally, they are the sort of players who may have been occupying first-team places at NSL clubs back in 1991, when parents of talented young footballers did not immediately think of a possible European contract.

They are all still teenagers. So why, I hear you ask, are they (and other European-based teens) not part of Ange Postecoglou’s Under 20 squad for the AFC Youth Championship?

And here we come to the nub of the matter.

The AFC Youth Championship will be held in India over a two-week period during the European club season. Sadly, the FIFA rules regarding the release of players for international matches do not apply to youth tournaments. This, of course, makes the job of an Australian youth team coach even more unenviable: some players are, in a practical sense, simply beyond reach.

The same, incidentally, is true of the Under 23 squad going into training camp this week. No sign of Neil Kilkenny or Nick Ward there, of course. Yet Murray again ignores the European club factor, and produces the following tendentious paragraph:

“It’s a similarly gloomy story with the Olyroos, restricted to under-23s come the Beijing Games in 2008. The vast majority of the players Graham Arnold is eyeing for selection for the Olympic qualifying campaign are inactive. Only two or three are based with overseas clubs, and very modest clubs at that, while the rest, though contracted in the A-League, are not being used or are under-used by their coaches. Australia faces the Beijing challenge with a bunch of bench-players or ones actually getting a game with the likes of Bray Wanderers and Chesterfield.”

Apart from the plain inaccuracy of the sentence in bold, Les has once again ignored the fact that our choice of players is circumscribed by their club circumstances, particularly in the case of those employed in Europe.

The final part of Murray’s piece is simply pathetic, and shows clearly why so many believe that, underneath the surface, there is still an unhealthy “we wogs own sokkah!” attitude prevalent at SBS.

Apparently, there is a desperate need for technical development now because migrant parents are no longer there to mould their kids!

Perhaps, in their long-running quest for a technical director, SBS will finally unveil a migrant grandpa from Sydney’s west?

Leaving aside the arrogance, how does Murray square his statement that “this era is dead” with the presence of, to take one example, three very young players of Slavic background on the Perth Glory bench on Saturday night? There is a third generation coming up, Les, and it doesn’t appear to have deserted football just yet.

Murray is right in saying that migrants have made an enormous contribution to football in this country.

He is wrong in saying that the era of migrant influence is dead, as merely a cursory glance at the A-League squads will confirm.

He is wrong in saying that the ethnic clubs are all but dead. They have been denied a place in the A-League for the best of reasons, but many of them are still alive and kicking in the state leagues, and still, in many cases, doing a fine job developing young Australian players...along with many other, non-ethnic clubs.

And Les is wrong in saying that the development of Australian youth is in a crisis.

speaking of unhealthy attitudes your ''we wogs ..etc... betrays an attitude that pollutes an otherwise enjoyable,informed blog or is it a SYDNEY THING ....REMEMBER YOUR READERSHIP EXTENDS TO beyond your own ethnicity. john brugman
You'll note that my fictional quote was "we wogs..." - i.e. a reference to the fact that persons of continental European ancestry (such as myself, by the way) often refer to themselves in this way nowadays.

As for the Sydney jibe, grow up.
so Cronulla is in Melbourne?
SBS reminds me of a man who has been to a great party, and now realises that no-one is left in the house, the music has died and the drink all quaffed.

The WC was great for SBS, but now Fox continues with the Premiership and the A-League, RAI gets Serie A, which leaves just the Champions League for SBS. And the Champions League doesn't warm up until after the group stages.

I'm just waiting for Les to refer to the A-League as 'plastic'. Indeed, it was 'plastic' that SBS should have waved around when they had an opportunity to buy the TV rights, as it is clear that every weekend of the A-League has a growing number of people watching, either live or on the box.

The wrath of the spurned, Mikey. The wrath of the spurned.
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