Brisbane Roar winger, Fahid Ben Khalfallah, believes Australia isn’t producing enough young players with flair and will continue to pay the price if clubs and the federation don’t act soon.
The Tunisian has had vast experience in Europe, but now considers himself a genuine Australian and has ambitions of coaching Down Under in the future.
And while he acknowledged that football was the most participated sport in Australia, he fears that may change due to the hefty fees slapped on youngsters playing the game.
“I think the A-League hasn’t gone up, for sure – the quality for me is the same,” Ben Khalfallah told FourFourTwo.
“For me it’s annoying because the sport is huge, you can see AFL, cricket and rugby, I can’t understand why the football isn’t getting better.
“It’s ridiculous because overseas, it’s so cheap and you see here you have to pay $1500 or $2000 per year, just to get into an academy with someone who doesn’t even know football.
"People are making money out of it, but don’t know how to teach kids the right thing."
The 35-year-old said Australia wasn’t producing “enough good young players” even with the top flight restrictions on imports.
“You’re only allowed five foreigners in the A-League,” he said. "It’s a good thing because it gives more time for the Australians, but the level doesn’t get better.
“Australia has to create academies everywhere, bring people from overseas to see how different clubs work. When you’re 18 – 19-years-old and you have someone who tries to teach you, it’s too late, you have to learn that when you’re 10, 11 and 12.
“People here can run a lot, but for me football is technical, and technically the football is not good enough. When kids are in their early teens, we don’t teach them the right thing. “
Several A-League clubs already have academies – and in October last year Sydney FC, Western Sydney Wanderers and Central Coast Mariners became the first to have their academies accredited ‘2 Star’ - representing best practise in Australia.
Ben Khalfallah added: “Now it’s coming, Melbourne Victory and Brisbane will have an academy, but I think it has to start even when they’re 10 or earlier.
“Now they’re talking about one player at Melbourne City, Daniel Arzani. That’s only one player and there aren’t enough good players coming. They’ve got to change and they need to be more consistent. It takes time, but for me, we have to create more academies.”
Ben Khalfallah enjoyed success at Melbourne Victory in his first season in 2014/15, but with many former players and fans, he believes the league has stagnated since then.
“Even though I’ve enjoyed it, they can’t waste more time, I’ve been here for four years,” he said.
“The salary cap is still a problem, but it’s hard because the league isn’t competitive. When you see in the Champions League, playing Japanese and South Korean sides, Australian teams aren’t good enough most of the time.
“Then Australians say Japanese and Chinese leagues are good, no they’re not, if you compare them to Europe, no, they’re not good.
“There needs to be a second division, it gives more opportunities, but with no relegation you don’t know how to deal with the pressure. You have to create a second division and get more competition because it’s not going to get better.”