Photo: AMAZING ARCHIE: Socceroos in need of Central Western stars. Sourced: Leandro Stein
Bathurst boasts a plethora of footballing talent; however, young players have a hard time advancing to the next level due to a lack of playing destinations in Australia.
The Hyundai A-League is Australia’s only professional football league, but there’s a significant drop-off between it and the next tier.
The NPL (National Premier League), a ten team competition, stands below the A-League but doesn’t have the money to employ the increasing amount of prospects.
This is leading to more Australian footballers heading overseas or calling it quits.
Not only does this effect the domestic competitions in Australia, it effects the longevity of our national force as the Socceroos aren’t making the improvements they should be.
This has evoked concern from Bathurst 75‘ president, John Lambert who thinks the local and widespread talent going to waste is an issue.
“The problem with the A League is limited teams and we don’t take the next tier down seriously enough.” Lambert suggests.
“The next level down doesn’t get enough coverage either.”
The pathway for a young player is a challenging and well-structured one, but once they polish their game to a professional level, it’s hard for them to break into a well-paid position.
“We have the Western Mariners in the local leagues and we (Bathurst) play against other districts like Dubbo, Orange and Mudgee”, Lambert said.
“It’s very hard for players to go beyond that.
“There’s limited positions and it’s about players taking their opportunities with both hands.”
In England, where football is a religion, the operation is that of a promotion-relegation system where high-ranked teams from lower-tier competitions get sent to a higher league and the poor-performing squads get sent down.
The adoption of a system like this in Australia would put more of a focus on the NPL and the semi-pro/amateur leagues below it.
More attention equals more money and a better chance for young players to find work in Australia.
Will this help our beloved Socceroos and the overall quality of Australian soccer? Potentially.
There’s no plan in place and there isn’t an obvious solution but after a World Cup to remember in 06’, it seems as though the quality of our football is regressing both nationally and domestically.
It may start with a salary cap increase or a promotion-relegation system but wherever it starts, it needs to start soon.