Ministry of Sport

FFA To Review Player Pathways In Australia

Football Federation Australia’s (FFA) newly appointed Technical Director, Rob Sherman, is set to lead a review into the development of young footballers across the country.

The current development of players, or lack thereof, was one of the most widely debated topics at the recent Community Football Forum and Sherman said there was broad acknowledgment across the football community that it was time to revisit this crucial aspect of the game.

“The review will initially look at the current club academy structure and develop a detailed strategic plan to evolve the current youth development system,” he said.

“We are aiming for a world-class and clear pathway, nothing less.”

The closure of the FFA’s AIS program in recent years has placed pressure on clubs to outlay resources into youth development and Sherman admits when he looks at overseas models, he sees elite youth players experiencing a development environment that Australian clubs have struggled to match.

“In countries like Japan, Belgium and Germany, players train and play in world class environments nurtured by accredited youth development coaches over a 40-week season.

“In Japan, every J-League club has an elite academy which is supplemented by multiple federation-run regional training centres.”

“We need to create an environment that enables young Australian footballers to develop into world-class players.

“World’s best practice often means football clubs with a strong academy structure, which underpins their club’s recruitment, which in turn enhances the playing pool and national team selection,” he said.

The first step in the process is to establish a working group featuring some of the most respected figures in Australian football.

“I am delighted to welcome Ron Smith, Craig Moore and Michael Cooper onto the panel, along with representatives from our Hyundai A-League clubs; Steven McGarry, Kelly Cross, Drew Sherman and Ian Crook,” he said.

Once the first stage of the review is completed, a consultation will be undertaken with existing NPL clubs and Member Federations to ensure all of those who have a part to play in player development can add their knowledge into shaping the new pathways.

The Review will also consider:

  • the current FFA Star Club Academies accreditation process and structure
  • the potential to establish a competition framework that will enhance the likelihood of players transitioning into the Hyundai A-League first-team environment
  • the female pathway so we can continue to be a force on the world stage
  • the competition framework for players aged 13 – 18 including a potential National Academy Championship
  • distribution of funding for youth development programs and coach education;
  • establishing a national scouting database for national teams;
  • the principles and process for a revised domestic training compensation policy;
  • and the impact and importance of developing a National Youth Development Plan to complement a revised National Football Curriculum for the football community;

 The first meeting will take place in June, with final recommendations due by September.

Shaun Carney

Shaun Carney