Youth players kick off league of their own this weekend

Social commentators say Gen Y wants it all right now - so Football Federation Australia (FFA) has delivered them a league of their own. In what FFA CEO, Ben Buckley, described as a "very exciting" development for football, the new National Youth League debuts this weekend.

Social commentators say Gen Y wants it all right now - so Football Federation Australia (FFA) has delivered them a league of their own.

In what FFA CEO, Ben Buckley, described as a "very exciting" development for football, the new National Youth League debuts this weekend.

"The National Youth League represents our future," Buckley said.

Talented young players will have an opportunity to play regular, quality competitive games regardless of whether they are part of the AIS program, the State sports institutes or the State football leagues.

“There is also a clear link with the Hyundai A-League, as well as the various national teams in football at Under 17, Under 20, Under 23 levels, and the Socceroos.

“For more than a decade football has been the sport of first choice for boys from 5-14 years and, now with the establishment of the National Youth League, there is substantial and regular high level competition in place for talented, male athletes," Buckley said.

"Football also offers unparalleled opportunities to wear the green and gold representing Australia on the global stage, as well as playing internationally in the Hyundai A-League through competitions such as the Asian Football Confederation's Champions League,” Buckley said.

The National Youth League comprises teams from each of the seven current Australian Hyundai A-League teams.

"This concept of a 'super club' is very similar to development models used throughout European and English football competitions," according to FFA National Technical Director, Robert Baan.

“The key to improving the technical skills, proficiency and tactical maturity of players is playing games - and as many games as possible.

“The National Youth League provides players aged between 17-21 years of age a clear pathway from youth leagues to senior level and then on to professional level. When combined with existing State-based competitions, players in the national youth league will play between 35-40 games each year.

“For Australia to improve its competitiveness in world football at all levels, our players must be playing competitive matches against quality opponents during this critical development period for young, elite sportsmen,” Baan said.

Buckley added that the national youth league is of “paramount importance” to the future of football in Australia.

"The players starting in the National Youth League competition this season are our Hyundai A-League and Socceroos players for the next 10-15 years."

Buckley said the establishment of a national youth league was identified as a priority in the national football development plan released by FFA last year.

NYL Round 1 matches are:

- Friday: Melbourne Victory v Queensland Roar, Green Gully Reserve, 3.30pm AEST - Friday: Central Coast Mariners v Perth Glory, Bluetongue Stadium, 5.15pm AEST - Saturday: Adelaide United v Newcastle Jets, Hindmarsh Stadium, 4.15pm AEST

- Sydney FC: BYE