FIFA and Football Australia Team up to discover the next gen


Unearthing and producing more future CommBank Matildas and Subway Socceroos than ever before was the focus for Football Australia alongside the assistance of Football NSW when members of FIFA’s High Performance Department visited Australia this week.

FIFA High Performance Specialist April Hendrichs and FIFA High Performance Specialist Richard Allen spent a week in Sydney with members of Football Australia’s Technical Department to discuss FIFA’s Talent Development Scheme (TDS), their assessment of Football Australia’s Ecosystem and Performance Gap Report as produced by FIFA’s High Performance Department, and evaluate Football Australia’s own TDS strategy prior to its implementation next year.

The TDS aims to create a sustainable legacy for long-term talent development by maximising each Member Association’s opportunities and address the unique barriers and challenges to talent identification by respective Member Associations.

Speaking on Football Australia proposed TDS Strategy, Football Australia Chief Football Officer Ernie Merrick said: “Through our Talent Development Scheme we want to ensure we are giving every talent a chance to be identified and reach their potential irrespective of their circumstance, which will ultimately develop more CommBank Matildas and Subway Socceroos in the next five to ten years,” Merrick said.

“To achieve this, Football Australia aims to solve challenges as identified in the FIFA Ecosystem and Performance Gap Report by creating monitoring lists and depth charts of more players aged 15 – 20 years in both men’s and women’s football, increase the frequency of elite matches and invitational camps across all parts of the country, and play more representative matches against international opposition.

“By using purpose-built technology and engaging a wider scouting pool to evaluate Australian talent both in Australia and abroad, we believe we can identify more talent in each age group than we ever have and support their development. This in turn will allow national team coaches to improve squad selection and create more competition for spots in our youth national teams, which will feed into the senior national teams,” Merrick concluded.

Geography is Australia’s number one challenge when it comes to talent identification, where Football Australia has developed a Talent ID App which will enable technical staff, coaches, and scouts to provide real time feedback on talent covering a range of key attributes.

As part of the market visit, Football Australia with the strong support of Football NSW, hosted two elite matches at Valentine Sports Park featuring a girls’ match and a boys’ match, where over fifty technical directors and qualified coaches from across Greater Sydney attended to provide their real time feedback using Football Australia’s Talent ID App, enabling FIFA staff to see the cornerstone of Football Australia’s proposed TDS strategy in action.

“In what has been a unique year for Football NSW delivering a multitude of professional development opportunities by blending player and coach development together, our final Elite matches for the year allowed us to play hosts to both FIFA and Football Australia,” said Football NSW Technical Director Warren Grieve

“Wednesday night saw us deliver matches 18 and 19.

“Our Elite matches play a pivotal part of the strategic plan of Football NSW and Football Australia’s talent identification process.

“Linked to this is the FIFA Talent Identification Scheme. April Heinrichs delivered a small presentation on the scheme and clearly articulated the important role we all have to play.

“This was a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate what we are doing in this space.

“We sincerely thank both Football Australia and FIFA for allowing us this opportunity and I would like to also extend my personal thanks to our Football NSW staff whom without, this event would not have run to the highest standards we have come to expect,” concluded Grieve.

The globally revered FIFA Women’s World Cup winner – as a player, coach, and technical director – April Heinrichs said the week in Sydney was hugely beneficial and she was impressed with the vision Football Australia has to tackle the unique challenges it faces in the area of talent identification.

“I’ve been thoroughly impressed with Football Australia’s approach to the development of its own Talent Development Scheme,” Heinrichs said.

“Over a five-day period, I’ve been able to meet with a range of people within Football Australia and the wider Australian football community to better understand the association’s challenges around the development of talent and witnessed first-hand the exciting opportunities that lie ahead for Australian football.

“FIFA will continue to work closely with Football Australia to support their endeavours in this space, and we look forward to seeing the roll-out of the association’s Talent Development Scheme and the positive outcomes which should stem from this over the next decade and beyond,” Heinrichs concluded.

Football Australia is aiming to launch its Technical Development Scheme in early 2023.