Football’s enforced hibernation in the face of COVID-19 has given participants plenty of time to think about how to cure what ails it.
Unsurprisingly, a number of the solutions have centred on broadcasting rights and streaming services, in-house media apparatus and seizing the means of (television) production.
They have accompanied discussions on juniors fees, the creation of a national second division, steps to connect the Australian football pyramid, fostering a domestic transfer market and Australian youth development.
For Melbourne Victory’s Technical and Academy Director Drew Sherman, that final topic has been consuming much of his downtime thinking, and the Welshman has taken to social media to address some myths of Australian football.
“I suppose now has been a moment where a lot of people look at the bigger picture stuff,” Sherman told FTBL.
“People have more time and have had the opportunity to look at some of the bigger picture issues: What’s the state of the game like in Australia? Why is that the case? Where do we need to go from here?
“For those people that heavily work in youth development, those are the questions you always ask anyway, because you’re not producing players for now, by definition we’re producing players for 2030 and beyond.
“I think the challenge is to understand that, certainly in the space of things that you talk about now, these current players, they’re not a by-product of the existing systems.
"Youth development takes 10 to 15 years, so those players at that level now are a product of the systems that were in place 10 or 15 years ago and have been disbanded.
“In the A-League, the longest academies have been around five years; it will take another five to 10 years to assess their proficiency in terms of producing players. In the case of the clubs in Melbourne, ourselves and City – Western United aren’t even established yet – we’ve had full academies for months, not years.
“You have to understand that any assessment of current data is an assessment of a history that is not our future.”
One of the most emotive issues Sherman believes needs to be tackled is the debate surrounding game time afforded to youngsters in the A-League.