Stars are born here

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - LIAM BUT­TER­WORTH

FOOT­BALL Fed­er­a­tion Aus­tralia na­tional tech­ni­cal di­rec­tor Eric Abrams sees a place for re­gional ar­eas like Townsville in contributing to a boosted ju­nior de­vel­op­ment path­way.

Abrams, a Bel­gian who coached cur­rent English Premier League stars like Vin­cent Kom­pany, Eden Hazard and Ro­mulu Lukaku dur­ing his long ten­ure as a na­tional coach in Bel­gium’s ju­nior sys­tem, says the re­gional ar­eas form a key part of the pyra­mid struc­ture of foot­ball in Aus­tralia and that all lev­els must be strong if the de­sire to see the Soc­ceroos be­come a world force rings true.

He is the first FFA high­level of­fi­cial to visit the re­gion since the col­lapse of the Fury A- League club in 2011 and has won plenty of ad­mir­ers for his vi­sion for im­prov­ing player and coach de­vel­op­ment.

Abrams knuck­led down in Novem­ber last year and has been vis­it­ing re­gional ar­eas around the coun­try to see the chal­lenges and the whole foot­ball land­scape in Aus­tralia.

The Fury have high am­bi­tions of en­ter­ing the A- League again one day, but first see a spot in the Na­tional Youth League and W- League as cru­cial for pro­vid­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties to tal­ented kids in re­gional Queens­land, and it’s some­thing that Abrams agrees with.

“That is ab­so­lutely im­por­tant,” he said.

“The Na­tional Youth League is chang­ing be­cause of a lot of the own­ers are not con­vinced that it’s a good way to de­velop our play­ers.

“I think it’s a re­ally good way, but it’s very re­stricted and re­duced be­cause there are only nine teams and a Cen­tre of Ex­cel­lence.

“I think … there is ab­so­lutely space to cre­ate a big­ger NYL com­pe­ti­tion.

“If we can pro­vide it all over the coun­try then I think we can pro­vide well for the ones with po­ten­tial and we can pro­vide a com­pe­ti­tion of maybe 20 or 25 rounds, and that gives us the op­por­tu­nity and the A-League clubs to make a good space for scout­ing of these young play­ers.’’

Abrams is in the city for three days and has been watch­ing the un­der- 12, 13 and un­der- 14 Queens­land Coun­try tri­als at Brolga Park.

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