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FAI High Performance Director Explains Why More Irish Youngsters Should Stay In Ireland

FAI High Performance Director Explains Why More Irish Youngsters Should Stay In Ireland
By Mikey Traynor
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Ruud Dokter arrived from Holland in 2013 with the task of ensuring that the best young Irish talent would get the coaching that they need in order to one day have a shot at representing the boys in green at full international level.

We haven't heard much about what is going on behind the scenes in terms of nurturing the best talent that the country has to offer, but Dokter sat down for a rare interview with Daniel McDonnell of Independent.ie and gave his views on the current state of Ireland's youth development.

There is concern among many Irish fans over the age profile of the current squad, and the perceived lack of young talent playing at a high level, and one of the main issues that continually pops up is the way in which young Irish players are being farmed out to English clubs.

One look at the likely Republic of Ireland squad to go to France this summer would suggest that maturing as a footballer in Ireland before making the move over and working up through the English system is a good way to go about making the breakthrough at international level, and Dokter suggested that the implementation of an U17 and U15 national league will make it easier for Irish youngsters to resist the call to England:

Players go to England. They think it's the be-all and end-all to go to England but there is evidence that shows that it's not. It's a very competitive environment and all these academies are full of foreign international players. The question is if that's the best environment for our players? We have an U19 league, an U17 league and hopefully in the future, there will be an U15 league, so there will be improved elite competition structures at local levels to provide a pathway to stay in the country.

Obviously, we want the best players to go to the UK of course, to play for Manchester United and Arsenal and Chelsea. And I respect players chasing the dream but reality shows it's not always the best step. We have players here in our senior team now which you know stayed a long time in Ireland and they are a little bit more mature because of homesickness and things like that. 16 is very young to leave your parents. We are working on elite structures, so there's a good reason to stay here for another year or years and say 'Ok, I'm ready to go now..'

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While the obvious examples such as Shane Long, Seamus Coleman, and James McClean stick out like a sore thumb, the impressive start that Chris Forrester has made at Peterborough United is another example of a player moving to England at the right time, after experiencing competitive football in the League of Ireland.

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Forrester surprised Gary Lineker & Co. in the BBC studio during his recent FA Cup exploits, but those who watched him for Bohemians and St.Pats knew full well what he was capable of having watched his development here.

And, of course, it's not always a bad thing for an Irish youngster to head off to a club in the UK, but the numbers that do make the move dwarf the numbers that actually break through.

It's good to see the FAI make an effort to keep young players in Ireland, as there previously has been little to offer in the face of a spot in the academy of an English club, but it remains to be seen whether their endeavours will pay dividends in the long term.

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You can read the interview in full over on Independent.ie.

SEE ALSO: The Irish Youngster To Keep An Eye On From Every Premier League Club

SEE ALSO: Ex-St. Pat's Player Chris Forrester Received Abundant Praise On The BBC During FA Cup Replay

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