Young Socceroos coach Gary van Egmond says we need to create more opportunities in professional football for young Australian players to flourish and develop.
Van Egmond played for the Socceroos, coached in the A-League with Newcastle Jets and is now boss of the Australia Under-20s national team.
He debuted in the National Soccer League at the age of 17 with APIA Leichhardt and played for the likes of Footscray JUST, Marconi and Wollongong Wolves.
Asked about player development and pathways now compared to the NSL days in the 1980s, the 54-year-old believes in the modern environment there is not enough exposure or opportunity for youngsters.
"Players don’t get the opportunity," van Egmond told The Jetstream podcast.
"I think that's probably one of the big areas for our academies going on at the moment that is younger players are not getting the opportunity to either observe or get involved with senior football, which used to occur a lot more frequently in the old NSL.
"That’s something we could look to manage [better].
"Also with the pathway, it used to be a case of U16s to U19s you went to the youth team, you went through the institute, so you were at the AIS and then after you went from the AIS you went into an NSL team and there were more teams.
"So if you looked at Sydney, for example, we’ve got two [A-League] teams, soon we’ll have three. Whereas previously, you had a lot more teams to be able to go to as far as young players are concerned. That opportunity now lacks."
Van Egmond supports creating a second division to expose more young players to a full-time, professional environment.
"You need that second division competition," he said.
"There needs to be another league that runs concurrently with the A-League and from there you’ll then have promotion and relegation and that B-League will probably be a really good development league and give a lot of players an opportunity of professional football.
"It would be great to see that competition take off because I think it’s imperative for the development of our players."