Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Where Do The Children Play?
In truth, the youngsters didn't give at all a bad account of themselves in the Victorian Foxtel Cup. Although they finished well down the table, they had the disadvantage of playing all their matches away from home, with the rigours of interstate travel thrown in.
The AIS kids have been left in a difficult situation following the post-Crawford restructure; throughout the nineties, they competed in the northern division of the National Youth League (contrary to a very durable myth, there never was a fully national youth league to complement the old NSL).
So where should they go for competition now? The closest contemporary equivalent of that old northern division (which became defunct in 2003/04, along with the NSL) is the Under 20 division of the NSW state league. But it would probably be naïve to imagine that the standard is comparable, even though there's plenty of good football played in the NSWPL Under 20s (this year's champions, Marconi, were quite outstanding at times).
The obvious solution for the AIS squad would have been to compete in the senior version of the NSWPL, but the arcane politics of NSW football prevented this from happening, hence their Victorian jaunts this year.
The cost of competing in an interstate competition is considerable, and the compromise solution of a spot in the NSW Winter Super League (a rung below the NSWPL) seems a suitable one. But, Andrew Orsatti tells us:
...the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) which oversees the operation of all AIS programs, says playing in the NSW Super League is not an option.
The standard is not adequate for the AIS to satisfy certain performance parameters...
This is dispiriting news. Are the AIS kids considered too strong for the Super League?
Perhaps they would indeed dominate the competition, but they tended to dominate the northern division of the old NYL as well. I've seen some Super League football over the last couple of years, and although it can be pretty ordinary, it would surely be better than nothing.
And, sadly, nothing (no serious, regular competition, in other words) looks like what next year's AIS cohort might just end up with.
I do remember watching alot of the AIS in the old northern division. They were always a classy outfit. Indeed, like many football fans at the time, I used to deliberately turn up 2 hours early for NSL games just to watch the kids run around. Very often, the games were better than the main fair that followed, and thats not to downgrade the quality of the first grade, which i thought was good, just to emphasise how good alot of the kids were....nice, technical, open games, very easy on the eye....that was my memory!!
This decision by Football NSW is a parochial decision, not made in the best interests of Australian football in its entirety. It appears analogous to the egregious 'old soccer' scenario. This state of affairs is not in the best interests of the game in this country.
Not sure how the few games in Canberra and regional Vic is going to work though. How will they decide which clubs have to go through that rigmarole?