Development Pathways

Talented Player Development Pathways

The pathways for young players to reach their potential can vary immensely and there are multiple ways for talented players to be considered for national teams. 

Each player’s journey is different and is impacted by a range of social, emotional, psychological, physiological and technical/tactical factors.

Skills Acquisition Phase/Junior Development League

Between 9 and 12 years of age is the prime time for girls and boys to learn game related functional skills. This is known as the Skills Acquisition Phase, or SAP/JDL. The programs are licenced and follow the national football curriculum.

At this age, training is focused on technical efficiencies within the four core skill model: 

  • First Touch 
  • Striking the ball 
  • Running with the ball 
  • 1 vs 1

SAP/JDL programs run for 40 weeks of year. The full-time program involves 2-3 training sessions per week and a match on the weekend against other SAP/JDL programs.

Match days

Match days should feature a player centered approach to development where players are playing equal game time, often rotated through different positions, are challenged to implement their training skills in a match day scenario where there is no fear of failure. It is the responsibility of our SAP/JDL programs to create a love for the game where players are intrinsically motivated to be responsible for their own development.

Talent Support Program

This program supports potentially talented players aged 12 to 18 to a quality environment that complements their club training. For girls, it is only offered to those not part of a National Training Centre program. It involves additional 1 or 2 week training sessions above their club training. 

This program is run at the member federation level. Potential players are identified throughout the year by a network of talent scouts observing community and NPL matches. Coaches and Technical Directors from clubs can also nominate players for consideration.