• Western United centre-back Andrew Durante (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Western United centre-back Andrew Durante believes the A-League’s inability to create clear pathways has hindered the development of the next generation.
SBS The World Game

27 Jan 2021 - 2:50 PM  UPDATED 27 Jan 2021 - 2:50 PM

On the verge of making his 400th professional appearance, Durante reflected on the ever-changing landscape of Australian domestic football; one that has seen the A-League take over from the now defunct National Soccer League.

“I think the A-League’s been a roller-coaster,” Durante said during Wednesday’s episode of #TWGLIVE.

“It started off with so much anticipation – going from the NSL, no one knew what the A-League was going to look like.

“It took a little while to reach its peak. I think that year with (Alessandro) Del Piero, (Emile) Heskey and (Shinji) Ono, that was probably peak A-League – getting those big players to come out to our shores and play was huge.

“Maybe we didn’t capitalise enough on that but the issues now, and people talk about it all the time, is the young generation and who is coming through, and who are the next Socceroos.

“I think it broke down because when I was a junior, I went to Sydney Olympic when I was 12 years old, I went through the system.

Rudan warns against placing unfair expectations on A-League's rising youth
The surplus of minutes available to youth has been one of the A-League's celebrated storylines in 2020-21, but Western United coach Mark Rudan has taken time following his side's 5-4 win over Perth Glory to urge caution and warn against excitement turning into an unfair burden of expectations.

“I went (through the) 12s, 13s, 14s, 15s, 16s, reserve team, first grade – so there was a clear pathway for me to become a pro.

“So the transition and process to become a pro was maybe a little bit easier.

“A lot of A-League clubs now, they only have a first team and reserve team, and they haven’t really gained that junior development, so it’s a little bit harder to get those young players coming through.”

The 38-year-old’s assertations come at a time in which several young players have risen to prominence on the domestic front this season, with Western teammate Dylan Pierias one example of note.

Nevertheless, Durante believes the hotly-contested topic must be addressed if the next generation are to come through at a more frequent and lasting rate.

Western United, fresh from their incredible 5-4 victory over Perth Glory, will host Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park this Saturday, aiming to condemn their rivals to their third defeat in their last four matches.