NNSWF announces decoupling of youth football, creation of Premier Youth League

August 5th, 2022

Northern NSW Football is excited to announce the decoupling of its youth football from senior football along with the launch of a new youth competition structure for boys.

The NNSWF Premier Youth League has been designed to enhance the talented player pathway, enabling more competitive football for young players and facilitating more games of best versus best and like versus like.

All Premier Competitions clubs that meet the criteria, including regional football programs Mid Coast FC, North Coast Football and NIAS, will be invited to enter the inaugural competition next season.

– The PYL will replace the youth components of the NPL NNSW and Northern League One

– Under-18s will move from the existing senior competition structure to join the PYL

– Youth players will be involved in more matches and play significantly more match minutes

– Clubs will be rewarded for the strength of the youth program

– Decoupling of youth football will allow a review of the senior competition structure

NNSWF General Manager Football Operations Liam Bentley said creation of the Premier Youth League was a positive for the region’s talented young players and their clubs.

“More than one in three matches in the NPL NNSW Youth have resulted in a win or loss by four goals or more over the last four years, with one in five ending with a six or more goal difference over the same time period. That is an average of almost 200 matches every season which are not competitive,” Bentley said.

“It is clear that there are too many non-competitive matches and the changes will assist with player development for aspiring future national teams players while also providing a valuable experience to players at the various abilities levels throughout our premier competitions.

“This transition will increase the overall number of matches played and the number of competitive matches for all players, as well as more matches of Best v Best and Like v Like.”

NNSWF Head of Football Development Peter Haynes said much consultation had taken place, with NNSWF establishing a Decoupling Working Group midway through last year consisting of senior NNSWF Technical and Football Operations Staff, Football Australia, NPL and NL1 standing committee chairs, technical directors and club administrators.

“The consultation process concluded with a joint meeting of the NPL and Northern League One standing committees,” Haynes said.

“The working group was vital to providing an outcome which considers not only the talented player development priorities but also the operational impacts at club level and expectations of parents within the current premier competitions.”

NNSWF CEO David Eland said while the new PYL competition had been created with the specific focus on youth players and their development, the decoupling of youth football from senior football meant discussions could now be had regarding the senior league structure without any negative impacts facing youth programs.

“The NNSWF board have directed management to start consultation regarding the structure of our senior competitions,” Eland said.

“This consultation with key stakeholders will include areas such as league size and structure, promotion and relegation for senior football and the potential to connect local senior competitions to our Premier Competitions.

“The potential creation of a functioning football pyramid in our NNSWF premier competitions is an exciting prospect and something we’re committed to exploring.”

How it will work

The 13 clubs competing in the 2022 NPL Youth NNSW and newly promoted New Lambton FC will start 2023 in Premier Youth League 1, while the 10 clubs competing in NL1 Youth will start in PYL 2.

After playing everyone in their division once, clubs will be divided into three leagues based on the collective results of their five youth teams – under-13s, 14s, 15s, 16s and 18s – in a club championship model.

The top eight performing clubs in PYL 1 will contest PYL A for the remainder of the season.

The bottom six clubs from PYL 1 and the top two clubs from PYL2 will contest PYL B.

The remaining clubs from PYL 2 will form PYL C.

The top four teams in each of the PYL A age divisions will contest a traditional finals series. The top two teams in PYL B and C will play a grand final in their respective leagues.


At the start of the following season, the top four clubs from PYL B will join the eight clubs in PYL A to establish PYL 1.

The bottom four clubs in PYL B will join the eight clubs from PYL C to form PYL 2, prior to splitting into PYL A, B and C again halfway through the season.

This will give us two 12-team divisions for 2024.

More football

The establishment of the Premier Youth League will be complemented by a formal Pre-Season Cup, two midweek knockout tournaments and a nine-a-side Summer Series at the Lake Macquarie Regional Football Facility to significantly increase the number of match minutes and competitive football played by our young players.

More information

Northern NSW Football has produced an explainer video and a comprehensive list of answers to potential questions.

These are available on the Premier Youth League portal on the NNSWF website HERE


More questions? Get in touch with us at competitions@northernnswfootball.com.au

Related Topics:
Premier Youth League

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