Interesting discussion! I can't see how you can debate about "the pathway" without defining the destination. The pathway to playing for your country (via youth level) is quite rigid or well defined through the FFA. Currently the opportunities are greater if you've played in the U17's or U20's because most have been through Reps, NTC's and AIS. It doesn't mean it's your only option. If you've got the talent and determination you'll find a path. Australian school boys/girls is one.