The FAI's High Performance Director sat down for a studio interview with Off the Ball
FAI High Performance Director Ruud Dokter has said that collaborations between schoolboy and League of Ireland clubs is crucial to the future of football in Ireland.
Dokter joined the FAI in 2013 after working with in his native land with the Dutch FA. In March, Dokter signed a five-year extension with the FAI until 2021.
Among the changes Dokter has made is the introduction of Under-19 and Under-17 leagues for League of Ireland clubs. He hopes to introduce an Under-15 league soon.
Dokter thinks that a solid under-age structure in League of Ireland clubs is crucial to the future of the league. "The future for the League of Ireland is to have academies", he revealed.
Picture by: Brian Lawless / PA Archive/Press Association Images
"We need a pathway from under-age to the first team. The League of Ireland clubs can provide that. The Under-19 and Under-17 leagues were very successful. The national step is the Under-15s (league). It is best practice in every country.
"It's a no-brainer" to have an academy, Dokter claims. He adds the academies will help clubs build community links all around the country.
The structures of Irish football are incredibly complex according to the Dutch supremo. "You have to take every step very carefully and see what is the outcome of that. That is the process. You can't do it any quicker."
"The sooner they understand the bigger picture, the quicker it will go."