Former Caltex Socceroo star Harry Kewell believes the development of young players in Australia is being accelerated with Hyundai A-League youth sides being able to play in men’s competitions.
A number of A-League clubs have their youth sides playing in the PS4 National Premier League competitions once their NYL commitments are over.
It’s something that doesn’t happen in England – where Kewell is coach of Watford’s under-21 side – and the former Leeds and Liverpool winger says its hindering young English players.
In other European countries like Germany and Spain, their youth teams play in their second and third tier men’s competitions.
“I think that’s a brilliant idea, fantastic,” Kewell told the Herald Sun’s David Davutovic of A-League youth sides playing in the NPL.
“The problem is managers look at young kids coming through and because they don’t have that experience they feel they’re not ready yet. Some kids don’t need it, they can step up. Others need time to get adjusted.
“The Chelsea 18s won the FA Cup, they were phenomenal, they had the best of the best, as do their 21s. But there’s no competition, even against PSG, Real Madrid.
“Where do they go? How do they better themselves? That’s why they go on loan and play against men. It’s important for players to understand it’s no longer kids’ football, it’s men’s football.
“I was thrown in young, but not everyone gets a chance. When you step up, you need to be able to handle yourself. A lot of kids find it hard to voice their opinion, they feel intimidated.”
Kewell says he has loved his first season of coaching the youth team at EPL club Watford, who play in an exclusively under-21 competition.
He has been back in Australia over the last couple of weeks running clinics for his Harry Kewell Academy.
“I love it. (It’s a) big lesson in football, a big learning curve,” Kewell said of his coaching journey.
“Coaching’s not easy. You have ideas in your head and it’s about projecting them and making people understand them.”