With the 2021 season’s premature ending leaving football communities across the state eagerly anticipating the 2022 season, juniors in the Macarthur Football Association region will be amongst the most excited to return to the pitch after receiving a small taste of the associations local M-SAP league that was launched in the 2021 season.
After a 2020 review of Representative Football, Macarthur Football Association identified the need to provide local players access to high quality development opportunities.
The creation of the M-SAP league has allowed the association to continue working towards its strategic objectives of enhancing the participation experience, raising the standards of youth football, and providing a quality youth development environment.
Difference between M-SAP and local comp
The 2021 season saw eight local clubs compete in the inaugural M-SAP league which was centered around a mixed U8 competition.
Players were exposed to a similar environment to that created in the SAP programs run by representative clubs in FNSW competitions. Coaches all obtained, as a minimum, Skill Training Certificate’s to be eligible to coach in the league whilst C licensed coaches were actively sought after to ensure value was being created for players that would not usually be the experience in a standard U8 competition.
Clubs are also required to meet a 3-star rating under the National Club Development Program, emphasizing Macarthur FA’s commitment to providing local juniors with a professional environment to develop in.
Aydin Khan was part of the inaugural Oran Park Rovers U8’s team who competed in the M-SAP league in 2021. Aydin’s mother, Rehana, believes that her son is already reaping the rewards of a ‘more competitive’ environment.
“It challenged Aydin to try harder and towards the end it’s a shame it was cut short, but Aydin was building a lot of new skills and his confidence as well.”
Rehana believes current initiatives such as the M-SAP league and the Association Development Program (ADP) provides current young players with a great platform to beginning their footballing journeys.
“I think they’re really good to get kids to gain a better understanding as well as gain more experience.’
“When Adam (Aydin’s older brother) started there was nothing else that I was aware of that could get him extra training to support where he wanted to go if he was planning to make soccer a career.”
Aydin believes training twice a week in the M-SAP league has allowed him to work on his ball skills and his weak foot as he continues to strive towards achieving his goal of one day playing for Manchester United in the English Premier League.
Dwayne Pearson, who coached the U8 Campbelltown Uniting Church M-SAP side, believes that there were clear signs of development from his players even though their exposure to the SAP environment was shorter than anticipated.
“From the first trial that we had at Uniting Church to where we finished halfway through you could see a massive improvement, but that came back down to structured training sessions, having plans and revising what we were doing.”
He also highlighted the level of professionalism that is now being created in the grassroots environment through the introduction of the M-SAP league and the clear pathway that has now been created for young footballers looking to progress in the Macarthur region.
“It’s an inaugural program that’s made history books. Just seeing kids walking around with their names on the back of their jerseys; I had to wait until I was 18 before I got my name on the back of my jersey.
“That’s what it’s all about, they’re getting an interest in watching World Cup games or they’re following the Matildas and they want to go watch a Rams team because they can see that they’ve got some type of pathway to get there.”
MFA quote on outlook for the competition in the future
Community Football Manager, Kevin Guardado Amaya, is adamant that the M-SAP League will be a game-changer for the Macarthur football community as it continues to provide more opportunities for players and coaches to develop in inclusive and accessible grassroots environments.
“With the M-SAP league being extended to include both U8 and U9 competitions in 2022, we will be doubling the number of opportunities for players and coaches to experience a rep-like environment.
“This will continue to grow year on year, which will ultimately impact hundreds of players and dozens of coaches.”
With Macarthur Football Association becoming one of the few associations in the state bringing the SAP experience to the grassroots environment, there is great optimism surrounding the future of local youth football in the region.
-By Fynn Rodgers