ECU Joondalup - nicknamed the Jacks - is one of the great success stories in Australia’s largely dysfunctional youth development system.

One of Asia’s hottest strikers, Socceroo Adam Taggart, is just one of many who have come through the club.

Brandon O'Neill - a recent A-League Championship winner and new Socceroo - is another who came through ECU. 

Another future star is Danny Douglas, 15, who debuted this year for ECUs U20s as a 14-year-old and has since been trialing with West Bromwich Albion.

Two examples past and present of ECU’s development philosophy and success.

ECU do it their way. For a start, they’ve trashed the idea of only playing a 4-3-3.

The Perth club believes modern footballers need to know how to play a number of formations.

ECU also use their senior club side - which plays in Australia’s second-tier NPL - as a breeding ground for the youngest talent.

The club says, if you’re good enough, you’re old enough.

They point to the number of 15-year-olds they’ve elevated to the senior team over the years as proof their mantra works.

Club stalwart and operations director Steve Amphlett explains more.

“We are fluid with our formations. The FFA directive a few years ago was a 4-3-3,” he tells FTBL. 

“But if you only play that formation, and you go overseas and the club you trial with play 4-4-2. The coach over there in Europe is going to give you 30 minutes to impress.

"It makes it so much harder.

“We try to change the system a few times each season, so the players are comfortable when trialing at clubs anywhere in the world and are more versatile footballers.”

ECU's U16s

This fluidity hasn’t gone down well with the governing bodies, according to Amphlett.