Qatar are all set to introduce an Under-23 league to run alongside the domestic football league, according to Qatar Football Association (QFA) General Secretary Mansoor Mohammed Al Ansari.
Mr. Mansoor Al Ansari feels that such a move would pave way for local talents to get more match time and continue their development.
Speaking to Goal, he elaborated, "We are trying to set-up a pyramid structure where we introduce the new league as the Under-23 QFA League. The Under-23 league has been set-up with the idea being to give the youth players an opportunity to play because most managers at clubs will put more experienced players in their line-up, including the professional players they bring from abroad.
"We wanted to ensure that the Under-23 players get a good number of field time which shall maintain their development," he added.
The Under-23 league will feature all teams from Qatar Stars League (QSL), the elite division, and the second division league.
"So there has been a new restructuring in new competitions department where we have QSL which consists of 12 teams and then you have the second division with six teams. Then you have the Under-23 league which includes all the teams. It’s kind of like a replacement of the previous reserves tournament," Mr. Mansoor explained.
He went on to point out why QFA has decided to replace the Reserves tournament with the Under-23 league - "We had a reserves tournament to make sure that the players are playing. Now we have made it into an Under-23 league with specific regulation and participation rules for their players to make sure that the whole squad is getting enough field time for development."
He also highlighted the work Qatar has put into developing young footballers by providing them avenues to test and challenge themselves.
"We do have existing leagues for different age groups. We are one of the few countries that have age group tournaments starting from Under-14, Under-17 and Under-19. We do a lot of grassroots festivals which are Under-10. We have it also on a GCC level in collaboration with GCC countries where we do GCC grassroots festivals," he spoke at length.
Mr. Mansoor also asserted that QFA's focus has always been on youth development and they are also focusing on developing coaches to improve the level of the game altogether.