SOCCEROOS and Everton star Tim Cahill believes the only way to help Australia produce better young players is to put more money into the grassroots.
The 32-year-old, who will return to Australia for the first time in nine months to host coaching clinics on the Gold Coast and Central Coast, also says new A-League youth products must master their craft before seeking a move overseas.
The 2011/12 domestic season has been widely praised as the best ever in terms of on-field quality, with a number of fresh young faces across the country having made their mark.
Chief among them were ex-Gold Coast flyer Ben Halloran and Mariners playmaker Tom Rogic, while Mustafa Amini completed his last A-League campaign ahead of a return to parent club Borussia Dortmund in the coming weeks.
Yet just a fortnight ago, Football Federation Australia technical director Han Berger expressed his concern with the status of youth development in Australia, saying there are not enough 'special, match-winning players' coming through.
It's a notion echoed by Cahill, who considers his coaching clinics - at Bluetongue Stadium from May 18-20 and at the Royal Pines Resort on the Gold Coast from May 25-27 - as one way for him to give back to the game.
"The only way you can produce great players is by working with them at young ages and investing a lot of money and time into them," he told Sportal.
"I think with the A-League, it's definitely a great competition but it's also a commercial brand that maybe misses out on the grassroots and the basis of where kids at the starting level come from.
"If there was more focus on the grassroots than the end product, it'd be a lot easier in 10 years to produce those players instead of trying to find them at a later level."
But Cahill also warned youngsters who eventually make the grade not to 'believe their own hype'.
"Just because you have three good games it doesn't mean that people can just go overseas and be a top player," he said.
"They really need to work hard, learn their trade, do well for a season or two and not believe their own hype.
"There are some fantastic players, the depth in the Socceroos is fantastic, but the whole main thing for any player is consistency and doing it over and over."
Cahill will drive that message to young Australian players when he returns home later this month for his clinics, joined by Everton academy coach Robbie Anderson.
In previous years, Cahill took his course to Newcastle, Sydney and Canberra, but will visit Gosford and the Gold Coast for the first time in 2012.
He revealed the decision to head to the tourist strip was no accident, following FFA's decision to kick the region out of the competition because of disagreements with billionaire mining tycoon Clive Palmer.
The governing body might have abandoned the region - and a bid from newly-elected Gold Coast mayor Tom Tate to save United - but Cahill said it was still vitally important to ensure football maintained a presence there.
"I watch the A-League from afar and I see what's going on, but I keep myself to myself," he said.
"I think Gold Coast was a really good choice, it was months ago that I picked it and it was because of what's been going on in the A-League. We research the areas that need this the most.
"It's nice to be able to give that side of the country a lift and say hey, look, you might not have a team but for this weekend, I want to spend some time with the kids and keep the buzz going and be a good influence."
- For more information on the Tim Cahill Coaching Clinics, or to book your place, please visit www.timcahill.com