We’re not kidding.
Football in Australia is growing in grassroots popularity all the time, so planning for the future now could pay off big-time for A-League teams.
In my previous article I had a look at which A-league was setting up for the future, although I mainly looked at players in the 17-to-20-year-old age bracket.
Today I’ll look at the 16-and-under age bracket, and though this information is harder to find, it’s accurate and up to date to the best of my knowledge.
Adelaide United have an academy for only 17 to 20-year-olds. They also have a pretty standard 12-week school, which is just to train once per week.
Verdict: I’m not sure what’s happening here. They need to develop a better and younger academy.
The Roar has a two-star academy that ranges from players as young as two years old to those who are 20 years of age. The club trains at the newly built Kelvin Grove facility, with under-12s to under-17s training there four times per week. Academy payments are $500 per annum for under-sevens to under-nines and $600 for up to under-12s.
The academy’s director is former Cook Islands coach Drew Sherman. The results in an 11-team league have the under-14s in seventh position, both the the under-15s and the under-16s in their respective fifth positions.
Verdict: Training four times per week and starting at two years old is something that all clubs should consider. Under-13s and over are trials, but those registration fees are hefty and would turn some away.
The Mariners have a two-star academy that caters for those aged groups seven to 20 years old. They have two development squads, which are led by Josh Rose and Nick Montgomery. The Mariners also have a rep league for under-eights to under-12s, which is very engaged with the community.
Verdict: Teir academy probably could offer more, but is features the best community engagement in the competition.
Melbourne City have an academy attached to La Trobe University, and it’s being labelled as one of the best Facilities in the country. It also links with seven other universities in Victoria as well as runs a cup. They don’t have much else on offer.
Verdict: There are good options for university links, although they need to offer more in the much younger group.
The champions have an academy attached to Victoria University, but they will be moving to a new Maribyrnong site. The Victory don’t have much else apart from the standard programs and clinics.
Verdict: The academy needs to be more active. They need to offer more for the juniors as well.
The Jets have an academy catering for 10 to 17-year-old players where the playing payments are between $1200 to $1500. The academy is directed by Michael Cooper and runs clinics and a competition.
Last season the under-13s finished in second, the under-14s won the title, the under-15s finished sixth and the under-16s also won the title.
Verdict: They’re doing well on the pitch but could widen the age range catered for at the academy. And why so much money?
Kenny Lowe is the technical director of the Glory’s two-star academy, which caters for those aged between 10 and 20 years old. They also have a development centre.
On-field results saw the under-13s and under-14s both winning the title, while the under-15s came second and the under-16s finished 3rd.
Verdict: With great on-field results, the academy is doing well apart from age range offered.
The Sky Blues have a two-star academy linked to AFC Ajax. It covers those from 12 to 20 years old and is directed by Kelly Cross.
In a 26-team competition the under-13s finished sixth, the under-14s took the title, the under-15s finished eighth and the under-16s came seventh.
Verdict: On-field results are good enough and so is academy. Once again, they need to offer a wider age range
The Western Sydney Wanderers were one of the first three teams to achieve a two-star academy rating, with payments being around $1000 to $2500 per scholarship. They are directed by former Norwich City and Sydney FC coach Ian Crook.
The under-17s knocked over Guangzhou Evergrande and Dynamo Kiev in a recent tournament, while in the NPL the under-13s were able to win the title, the under-14s ranked fourth, the under-15s were fifth and the under-16s were fourth.
Verdict: This is a very serious academy doing great things on the pitch. Payments are way too high, though.
In conclusion, Perth Glory, Brisbane Roar, Western Sydney Wanderers and Sydney FC would probably be doing the best right now for their next generation of players.
Once again I have not included the Wellington Phoenix. If there is not much information here, then they are not advertising their academy as well as they should be.