The Qantas Young Socceroos’ successful qualification for the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup is crucial to the development of the next generation of Australian players, according to Newcastle Jets coach Gary van Egmond.
The Qantas Young Socceroos- successful qualification for the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup is crucial to the development of the next generation of Australian players, according to Newcastle Jets coach Gary van Egmond.
The Jets boss, who previously coached at the Australian Institute of Sport, knows better than anyone the importance of international-standard competition to the growth of young Australian footballers.
Part of that challenge is the capacity to bring all of our best young players together for the big tournaments, whilst managing the responsibilities and expectations of their clubs in Australia and overseas.
Despite criticism of the coaching set-up in light of recent disappointing performances from the Qantas Australian U-23s and the Qantas Joeys, the Young Socceroos' run of success at the AFC U-19 Champions, currently being held in the UAE, shows just how much talent is available when Australian coaches are able to field a full-strength team.
“We-ve had the disappointment of the Olympic team not qualifying, we-ve had the disappointment of the Joeys not qualifying, so it-s great to see this young group of men qualify for the World Cup and put some more confidence into the development systems that have been put in place by the FFA and the national curriculum, and that there are some players coming through,” van Egmond told footballaustralia.com.au.
The Jets boss acknowledged the problems faced by U-19 coach Paul Okon and stressed the importance of continued support for those working at a development level.
“It-s difficult because of the restrictions you have form the clubs, especially because of the age group as they-re now starting to be involved in the first-team football," van Egmond said.
“But the most important thing is to keep investing in the youth and to put in as many resources as we can to keep improving them at this level.
“Instead of going the other way when we didn-t qualify with the Joeys, we now have to look how we can get international competition and the coaching environment here in Australia to the best level we possibly can, and ensure that that group still gets the appropriate environment they need to work hard and develop.”
The positives of having our best young players competing at the highest level are clear and van Egmond said the benefits stretch beyond the playing field.
“You can see the best players from all over the world that have played at the big youth tournaments. The international football you get, regardless if its 17s, 19s or obviously for the men, it-s utterly invaluable.
“To be part of that type of tournament, to be part of the set-up, to go up against different countries who have different philosophies and style of play, and to see how you can combat that, it-s very, very good. And not just only for a playing perspective but for a coach to be put into that type of environment.
“I-m sure Paul [Okon] will be going to the World Cup with this group and (U-19 assistant coach) Milan Blagojevic, and for them to get that experience of being able to talk to other nations about development policies. I was lucky enough to be in that position and you pick up some very good information.”
And for van Egmond, who saw five of his Newcastle players selected for the Qantas Young Socceroos squad, there is also a special enjoyment in watching the U-19s perform so well on the international stage.
“They-re into the semis [of the AFC Championships] and can hopefully they can go all the way and get some silverware.
“It-s nice to have personal affinity with so many of the players there - I-ll be burning the midnight oil to watch it on my laptop.”