Football Federation Australia (FFA) today thanked the Board and Management of Football New South Wales as well as National Premier Leagues (NPL) NSW clubs in unifying to help support Australia’s youth teams ahead of a series of important international competitions.
Football NSW and its member clubs have displayed great camaraderie and collaboration to adjust their NPL structures for season 2020, with two clubs – Western Sydney Wanderers FC and Newcastle Jets FC – shifting to higher NPL NSW tiers in order to expose their young players with greater levels of competition ahead of forthcoming national team activity.
Western Sydney Wanderers FC will move from NPL 2 NSW to NPL 1 NSW for season 2020, while Newcastle Jets FC will transition from NPL 4 NSW to NPL 2 NSW.
The decision for Western Sydney Wanderers to join NPL 1 NSW is due to the significant volume of players at the club currently on the radar of the Joeys, Young Socceroos, as well as Australia’s U-23 men’s national team.
On behalf of FFA, Socceroos Head Coach Graham Arnold today acknowledged the ratification of the NPL NSW adjustments.
“We are exceptionally grateful to Football NSW and the NPL NSW clubs for taking these decisions, which are in the best interests of a raft of ambitious young footballers and Australian football broadly.”
“The steps taken by Football NSW and the clubs will enable young players who have had minimal to no match minutes throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to play at the best possible level ahead of crucial upcoming national team competitions.
“This unified action by FFA, Football NSW and the NPL NSW clubs can have a profound impact on the careers of many young players and the future of our men’s national teams,” he said.
Later this year, Australia’s Joeys (U-16s) are scheduled to compete at the AFC U-16 Championship in Bahrain, while the Young Socceroos (U-19s) will contest the AFC U-19 Championship in Uzbekistan. Both competitions serve as the qualification process for youth FIFA World Cups in 2021.
Australia’s U-23 men’s national football team will compete at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in July-August next year.
In addition to the adjustment of the NPL NSW structures, Football NSW has committed to providing greater flexibility for Hyundai A-League youth teams competing in the respective NPL competitions to field U-23 players following the completion of the Hyundai A-League 2019/20 season. Football West, Football South Australia, and Football Queensland have also expressed support for this measure for 2020.
“This is another important move for the game,” Arnold added. “This commitment could be the difference between a player being selected and ready to compete in Tokyo or not, so we applaud each Member Federation for making these forward-thinking commitments for the broader benefit of Australian football.”