Melbourne City youth coach Joe Palatsides, says the eight game National Youth League (NYL) season needs to change if it is to aid the development of young Australian players.
Palatsides has been Melbourne City’s National Youth League Coach (NYL) since 2012 and during that time won the 2014-15 and 2016-17 NYL Championships.
This weekend Melbourne City’s NYL team takes on Western Sydney Wanderers in the NYL Grand Final and if Palatsides’ teams wins their third title, they will tie with Sydney FC for the most championships.
To qualify for Saturday's decider City topped Group A featuring Melbourne Victory, Perth Glory, Adelaide United and Brisbane Roar.
While Western Sydney Wanderers finished ahead of Sydney FC, Newcastle Jets, Central Coast Mariners and Canberra United in Group B.
The NYL regular season is only played over eight games and sees teams from their respective groups playing each other twice, with the winner of each group playing in the Grand Final.
But Palatsides believes this format is harming the development of young players.
“It’s not ideal,” he said speaking to FourFourTwo.
“I for one would like to see the return of the competition where we play each team throughout Australia twice and not just three or four different teams.”
Palatsides believes the NYL structure is also harming the Australia’s national youth teams.
“When you are playing against international teams you are playing against the best young players in the world in your age group,” he said.
“In Australia we don’t even play against the best young players in our age group we only play against half the teams.
“We want to play against Sydney FC, we want to play against Western Sydney FC during the year and get the players accustomed to the travel and have a proper 18-game competition.
“That would be a great competition and it would help in the development of all the young players.”
After the NYL season ends all nine Australian A-League clubs will compete in NPL competitions in their corresponding states, however four of the nine clubs will be playing in the second tier of the NPL.
Palatsides feels that compared to City Football Group’s (CFG) other clubs such as Manchester City and New York City, Melbourne City is lacking due to Australia’s youth structure.
“They (CFG) can see deficiencies in what we do because of that,” he said.
“They can see that the NPL is very much a physical league, so your injury rate tends to be a bit higher.
“The pitches that you play on do not promote good football. We played on a cricket pitch last year and it doesn’t promote good football.
“We want to promote good football because it’s the only way we are going to get young boys through to the A-League by playing the style of play that we believe in.
“We can’t play the style of play we want to in the NPL and that leads to the deficiency side of it.
“I’d rather see my boys play against the best NYL boys and compare them that way and let them play the football that we like, because that is a better development tool than playing in the NPL.”