Football Federation Australia's national youth league kicks off this weekend in what chief executive Ben Buckley describes as an exciting development for the game.
The league will comprise of teams from each of the seven current Australian A-League sides and aims to provide a clear pathway to senior level for players aged 17-21.
When combined with existing state-based competitions, players in the youth league will play between 35-40 games each year.
"For Australia to improve its competitiveness in world football at all levels, our players must be playing competitive matches against quality opponents during this critical development period for young, elite sportsmen," FFA national technical director Rob Baan said.
The establishment of a national youth league was identified as a priority in the national football development plan released by FFA last year.
The competition begins on Friday afternoon with Melbourne Victory playing Queensland Roar at Green Gully Reserve in Melbourne suburb Keilor Downs.
Central Coast Mariners will then take on Perth Glory on Friday night at Bluetongue Stadium before the A-League clash between the same sides.