Australian football needs to adapt to modern demands, not turn to nostalgia, in order to produce a new generation of high-quality and creative players says Melbourne Victory Technical and Academy Director Drew Sherman.
Discussion about the production of Generation Next in Australian football can often be a fraught one, with seemingly every facet from when a youngster first kicks a ball to when they make their A-League debut – and beyond – the subject of vociferous debate.
But one of the more generally accepted features of the zeitgeist’s conversation is that Australia, compared to decades past, isn’t generating creative and dynamic players.
The excitement surrounding Daniel Arzani’s meteoric rise to the Socceroos and a place at the World Cup ran deep not just because of his tender age, but also thanks to the bold, creative and skilful manner in which the then-Melbourne City youngster went about playing his football.
These players, the prevailing wisdom goes, are the exception rather than the norm when it comes to the production line of talent being produced by A-League clubs.
But according to Sherman, Australian football is hardly alone in experiencing what it perceives to be a sudden dearth of attacking and creative-minded players.
Instead, the Welshman says that the game Down Under is experiencing contemporary challenges that most of the globe have already been forced to come to grips with and that adaption, rather than nostalgia, is the best means of progressing youth development.
“I think that’s a global trend,” Sherman told FTBL.
“We can talk about it and bemoan the facts of Australian football, and we see that, but what we don’t realise is that we don’t have a global perspective. That’s something that was spoken about in the Netherlands 12 years ago, it was something that was spoken about in the UK in 2010.
“Everyone goes through that stage and it’s a societal issue - because we’ve gone from unstructured informal training at a high volume.
"[Unstructured, informal training] could have been going down to your local club and kicking a ball around with your peers and your father or playing in the streets as the kids do in the Favelas of Brazil or inner-city London.
“That has been removed and now the training environment is formal and it’s structured and it’s in its infancy here compared to elsewhere -- that formal structured environment. We are getting to a point where most of those nations were at ten to 12 years ago.
“The challenge is, they realised it and they adapted existing structures and adapted their approaches so that they were able to overcome it.
“We are in danger of saying the structures aren’t working and therefore we have to reinvent the wheel rather than adapt and I think that’s one of the dangers.”