This is as good a time as any for my first post, having watched for a few years now.* I spent 9 years in Australia, including when the A-League was setup in the early/mid 2000s. They are following a Dutch approach, and the best thing they have done is to get this philosophy embedded in youth football - including the coaches. All of the national team coaches adopt this philosophy - most youth coaches and advisors are in fact Dutch. This started with Guus Hiddink, and continued with Pim Verbeek. I'm unsure if Holger O (who may not last long) has changed much.
The late teen to early 20s have been disappointing. There are many guesses as to why. Some say, and I think there is some validity in this, that Aussie players go to Europe to early. They get stuck in youth football and don't develop. Those that have succeeded lately have played a few years of first team football in the A-league before moving on.
Australia also benefits from the Australian Institute of Sport, and all state level institutes. These are state of the art residency programmes for all sports. I guess the equivalent would be the US residency programme in Bradenton for football. But the Australian institutes are just so professional and impressive.
It is wrong to say that Australia losses a lot of players to other countries - some, yes, but not as many stars as Canada. Most go only when they have no hope of a Socceroo career. A few have picked Croatia over Australia, but that was in the early 1990s. Recent defections are delayed, and only when they have no chance with Australia.
Australia is light years ahead of Canada. We would be wise to look to them for guidance. I am not saying adopt everything they have done (ie - a-league standard is not feasible) but look to draw lessons from them. Just look at how many Australians - a country of only 20 million - have playing in the top and second division in Europe. It's staggering compared to Canada.
* I posted in 1999/2000 and enjoyed the early days. I stopped posting when I moved to Australia in 2001. Is know-it-all Jeffrey still in Spain and posting? There was also a great guy called Eric, if I recall. Would be interested to know if he's still an active poster.