Never one to shy away from a bold idea, Craig Johnston wants to see Australian football develop it’s own Big Bash-style format with A-League teams getting involved.
Worried kids are losing interest in the beautiful game and aren’t practicing enough with the round ball, the former Premier League veteran has put forward his pitch for a shorter format of football.
“The big idea is the Big Bash of soccer, but then the kids copy it at their training grounds,” Johnston told The Daily Football Show.
“It is professional six-a-side with A-League teams. The A-League teams split in half, red versus blue, they play against each other.
“That sets the national benchmark and then little kids in school, they split in half and play each other in exactly the same format, with the same penalty box grid, producing exactly the same data. It’s all skills data. What you’ve got now is a national database of skills. The Big Bash is merely a code name for the national skills championships.
“I want to leave a legacy. It has to work and everybody in the game has to embrace it and say, ‘our big problem is the game’s become boring and there’s not enough kids interested in spending time with a ball’.
“The only way you do that is you go to what already works in other codes. So the Big Bash and the One Day series is the best thing that ever happened to cricket in terms of engaging young minds and future minds.”
So what exactly would a game of A-League Big Bash look like?
Well, for die-hard football fans, the specifics will sound concerningly familiar to AFL.
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“Four quarters, 15 minutes each, rotating substitutes, sin bins, all the things you’re not allowed to do in soccer,” Johnston said.
“So effectively in midfield, you could take a touch, get past a player and you could shoot for goal. Then the goalkeeper’s either saving that shot or it’s a goal.
“We’re utilising the same players but we’re taking out their midfield and we’re giving the players and the consumers four times more of what they want in the quarter of the time.”