The soon to be confirmed decision by Football Federation Australia to expand the National Youth League into state league competitions has the potential to unite the country's football identity whilst having a dramatic impact on the development pathway.

Having provided many current A-League and National Youth League (NYL) stars, the nation's state leagues have been a rich source of talent.

Unfortunately, the connection between many A-League clubs and their local state league competition is in many cases distant.

With the FFA set to confirm that NYL teams will enter their respective state competitions this presents the ideal opportunity to develop this relationship.

The mooted proposals will see NYL teams continuing to compete in their current national competition in summer and move into state leagues in the winter months.

With many concerned that the nation's young players are not playing enough games this will ensure that members of NYL teams could potentially play 40 games a season.

Some of the state governing bodies have already announced how the teams will be incorporated into the competitions.

Northern NSW Football plan to allow the Newcastle Jets youth team full access to their premier competition.

The Jets will be eligible for points and the championship; however they will not be permitted to play A-league contracted players, trialists or play any home games.

The direct benefits of almost doubling the amount the games NYL teams are likely to be huge.

Some may point out, correctly, that many players already play in state league competitions in the winter, but the difference of being able to remain with their NYL teams for double the current amount of time could prove a vital step forward in their development.

Players will be able to continue to train and play in an environment where development is the most important goal not results, year round.

If implemented successfully development can occur under the guidance of one specific philosophy which will aim to produce players of a high technical proficiency.

By remaining at one club and not dispersing into several it will become much easier for those in authority such as Han Berger, National Technical Director, to make certain that players are being developed in accordance with the National Curriculum.

The proposals will also see the Australian youth set-up take on a similar structure to Spain, where club's reserve teams play in the lower divisions.

At clubs such as Barcelona the effects have been obvious with a continual flow of youngsters to the first team.

These players have had significant experience in senior football, where they are able to play around 40 matches per season against more experienced players in Spain's lower leagues.

The importance of this is even more obvious when you compare the technical ability of many young Spanish players to those in England where the reserve leagues see them play around 20 games per season.

Many may question the ability of youth teams to compete in the more physically demanding state league competitions against vastly more experienced opponents.

However, if NYL players are to have successful professional careers they will have to find solutions to these problems.

They will need to move the ball more quickly, they will have to find a way to minimise the impact of their opponent's obvious strength advantage, all important in making a successful transition from junior to senior football.

The important thing will be that players are encouraged to stick to a philosophy that will ensure long term results not revert to negative tactics to try to minimise or reduce damage.

This is where the A-League clubs will have to ensure they have an easily identifiable philosophy as an off the cuff approach will negate any benefits of going into the state leagues.

The advantages of NYL teams taking part in state leagues has the potential to not only improve Australia's development pathway but could also improve the health of the game.

Clubs will be able to have a year round presence in their local communities and will be taking an active role in their regions premier football competitions.

Clubs will not only benefit from being able to have their youngsters playing more games but will be able to scout players that they may have missed, or track those that may have just  missed out on selection into their youth programs.

With many state league clubs struggling to attract crowds the introduction of NYL teams will no doubt be a positive for the profile of the competitions.

There are of course issues that will need to be resolved before this will be confirmed.

Central to these will be streamlining the start and finish dates of all state leagues and what impact this move could have on programs such as the Victorian Training Institute who already compete in state competitions.

 If these issues can be resolved the decision to take the NYL into the state leagues has the potential to be a significant boast to both Australia's development pathway and the health of the sport.

The key for clubs will be getting the philosophy on and off the field right to ensure they make the most of this opportunity.

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