In this article, AFC A licensed coach Andrew Oakley shares his perspective on a significant issue in Australian grassroots football. Andrew discusses the risks of trials, recruitment and talent identification, outlining the importance of belonging and cohesion in a young footballers developmental journey. Why do we keep shuffling the cards in hope of a ‘winning’ hand? At the end of every season in Australia’s youth football landscape, a ritual is repeated that isn’t doing our clubs or players any favours. The annual circus of retention,…

It was 1993 and a 15-year-old Harry Kewell had just arrived at London Heathrow Airport with his friend, Brett Emerton. Little did they know at this stage that both would go on to have highly successful football careers and be regarded as two of the finest players to come out of Australia.

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