Plan to make Australia a world leader in the world game

Football Federation Australia (FFA) today launched its National Football Development Plan aimed at “Making Australia a World Leader in the World Game.”

Football Federation Australia (FFA) today launched its National Football Development Plan aimed at “Making Australia a World Leader in the World Game.”

After an extensive review of football development both in Australia and overseas, the FFA today released the plan for a whole of sport approach to provide greater support to the grass roots community and eliminate the gaps that exist in the development of our elite men and women footballers.

The new plan was created through extensive consultation and research and draws on existing programs and systems, together with a suite of new initiatives. It highlights the two distinct but interconnecting areas of football development:

* Game Development - Aimed at developing the infrastructure and programs around the broad base of the sport that supports the grass roots at the community level.

* Talented Player Development - Aimed at providing a clear pathway and specialised development for the most talented of Australian footballers.

The objectives of the plan are:

- Improve the overall technical standard of Australian player base - Design and oversee delivery of the best participation experience in Australian sport - Identify, attract and retain more and better athletes particularly in the 12-16 age group - Convert participants to life-long fans of the Australian game - Increase the number of accredited coaches and referees - Ensure facilities keep pace with demand

FFA Chairman Mr Frank Lowy said that a consistent national plan was necessary to ensure that there were opportunities for all to play the game and that talented players were highly skilled to progress through a national pathway.

“For Australia to remain truly competitive on the World stage we must find ways to take the excellent but limited resources available across the country, and through innovation and collaboration, maximise the efficiency and effectiveness in attracting and developing the finest possible Australian players and teams of the future, “ said Mr Lowy.

“Serving the community is one of the FFA-s four strategic priorities and we have worked hard to develop this plan along with a substantial amount of work which has already been done to create relationships, technology and expertise to allow the FFA to provide significant benefits to the broad football community.”

FFA CEO Mr Ben Buckley said the program was well supported by the State and Territory Federations and that it was aimed to foster life-long support of football.

“The FFA has set about providing high quality leadership and support for Member Federations and the football community which continually raises the standard of Australian football,” said Mr Buckley.

“Even with the absence of a co-ordinated national football development plan we have seen both our senior men's and women-s teams in the past two years make it past the group stages of their respective World Cups. Imagine the success Australian football teams can achieve with the commitment of everyone to work to this plan. With these new structures and initiatives in place we can build upon the success already achieved and produce even better results.”

Highlights of the National Football Development Plan include:

- All junior players will begin their football experience playing small-sided games - A National skills testing program - The introduction of a national youth league with all Hyundai A-League clubs (except Wellington) involved plus the Australian Institute of Sport - The establishment of a National Women-s League - Comprehensive review of referee development - Regular coaching conferences utilising the best credentialed coaches from around the world including a major coaching conference around the FIFA Congress in May 2008 - Targeted coaching courses for elite coaches - Customer Relationship Management System project

Throughout the process of developing the plan the FFA engaged with a diverse range of stakeholders in football development including Member Federations, Hyundai A-League clubs, District Associations, State Clubs, State and National Institutes of Sport, Schools, private academies, coaches, referees, players (through the Professional Footballers Association) and other interested individuals. Written submissions, workshops, briefings and individual consultations have ensured that the wealth of knowledge and enthusiasm in the development of the game has been tapped.

The plan includes the outcomes of the Talent Development and Identification Review which analysed the systems and practices of major football countries (Argentina, Brazil, England, France, Japan, the Netherlands, USA) as well as a review of the FFA-s current structures and those employed by other sporting codes in Australia.

The National Football Development Plan is a long-term project with the various initiatives phasing in with some activities already underway.