Australia has a near-perfect football pathway structure – but needs to axe every member federation if the sport is to reach its potential, says ex-FFA technical director Rob Sherman.
The former governing body guru told the FTBL Year Zero Podcast the pieces are all in place – prior to the current coronavirus crisis – for football to blossom.
But in-fighting, politics and money-first philosophy at federation level are continuing to hold the game back, with administrators putting commercialisation ahead of football.
He believes the current pathway structure - although currently under review and often criticised - still provides youth with an opportunity to make a global career in the sport.
“The pathway in Australia is almost a perfect model,” Sherman told the FTBL Podcast.
“In worldwide data, the suggestion is that if you accrue 75 to 95 games at senior level, in a lower professional league, you will then potentially move to a higher league.
“You'll be in a much better position and you'll have more chance of success.
“The reality is there is a professional league in Australia. I can come through, play in the A-League, and accrue the games I need.
“If I can progress beyond that, I’ve still got a career or I can move back to the NPL and stay in Australia but still play.
“But that pathway also provides the opportunity to move overseas and get a good contract because I’m not going when I’m vulnerable and immature.
“The opportunity to set it up in Australia and have a system of development here is ideal.”
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But blocking the overhaul, says Sherman, are the member federations who don’t prioritise the sport ahead of commercial interests.
“When I said the term football first, to me, it's the game people play, what it looks like on the pitch and how that’s structured,” said Sherman.
“Then if you get that right, I think the commercialisation becomes a by-product of that.
“When you start the other way around, there's a danger you have to compromise the outlook for the game people play to fit the commercial aspect.”
Sherman quit the FFA in frustration last month after he felt unable to set the wheels in motion for a ground up reset of the way the sport is structured in Australia.
Although he faced issues within the FFA, the biggest roadblock he said he faced was with the member federations.