The Sutherland Shire Football Association is the biggest football association in the Southern Hemisphere, and it’s not hard to see why.
With in excess of 18,900 players the SSFA boasts incredible playing depth across all age groups and competitions which General Manager Jeff Stewart says is key to ensuring a fantastic playing experience.
Stewart said that while growing the game and making it available to new players is important, the real secret to the shire’s incredible football participation is retention.
“I think the experience of playing is good and that’s a draw card to keep players in the game,” he said.
“We have a level of football for everyone starting out from under-6 right up to ove-45s for the men and over-40s for the women.
“We keep people in the game.”
A big focus for the association in 2020 is the continual development of its academy program.
“We’ve moved heavily into the academy space in recent years and we’ve put in place a program we can now offer to individual clubs and teams to help them develop their best players,” he said.
“It’s about ensuring the players that want to give themselves every chance of developing into the best player they can possibly be have the opportunity and try to bridge the gap we’re seeing as a community association between the community and NPL (National Premier Leagues) space.”
The academy program gives players access to extra sessions on top of their regular club and team training programs and is run by qualified coaches.
“There’s three main reasons people sign up for the academy program,” Stewart explained.
“They want more training, their on the cusp of getting into the representative programs programs and they want to make the required improvements in their game to make those programs, or they simply love playing and want more opportunities to play and get better.”
The holistic approach to player development – which is further supported by the SSFA’s coach development and support networks – has been vindicated at Football NSW’s Champions of Champions competition in recent years.
Another big focus for the SSFA is supporting its clubs in the push for more facilities.
“We are actively trying to support our clubs to better manage their facilities enhancements and better manage their requests for grant monies,” Stewart said.
“We have a dedicated facilities person whose job it is is to assist clubs with all the paperwork that’s necessary when applying for grants or requesting funding for different facilities projects.
“With so many players within the association, it’s important we’re able to support our clubs in looking at new potential for facility development and infrastructure.
With so many options available to parents and players, anyone interested in learning more about the Sutherland Shire Football Association, its programs and its clubs should head to https://shirefootball.com.au/ to find a local club or read more about the various programs on offer or check on the club listings on the graphic below.