Football Australia unveils National Talent Development Scheme

Football Australia, alongside FIFA, has unveiled Australian football’s Talent Development Scheme (TDS), designed to address the need for a robust, equitable, and comprehensive talent identification and development framework across the country.

The Football Australia TDS 2024 – 2026, was devised in consultation with FIFA’s Technical Development Team and is bespoke to the challenges faced by Australian football while benchmarked against global football.

Upon unveiling the Football Australia TDS at the Home of the Matildas in Melbourne, Football Australia CEO James Johnson said, “The unveiling and subsequent implementation of Football Australia’s Talent Development Scheme underscores our alignment with FIFA’s global standards for talent development, signaling our pursuit of excellence on the world stage,” Johnson stated.

James Johnson

“The Football Australia Talent Development Scheme will enhance the involvement of the nine member federations in talent Identification, increase coaching quality, and provide more opportunities to unearth and nurture raw talent nationwide through a data-informed approach to talent identification.

“This tailored approach to our Talent Development Scheme highlights our commitment to the national growth of football by ensuring emerging talent from every corner of the country is given a chance to shine, leading to more players entering our national teams’ pathway,” Johnson concluded.

In May 2021, FIFA released the findings from a ground-breaking study in which the message “every talented player deserves a chance to be identified and developed” was delivered.

The 14-month-long project, launched in January 2020 by FIFA’s Technical Development team, analysed youth football and talent development practices and structures around the world.

Talent Development Scheme
Talent Development Scheme

The data gathered during that time was compiled into a global report on the state and direction of talent development, as well as a dedicated report prepared for each participating country.

FIFA’s recommendations for Football Australia in the context of the TDS were:

  • Research the possibility to combine all data management needs within the same platform for modern and efficient data management.  
  • Consider ways to maximise identification efforts in rural areas, such as a formal club recommendation process, video sharing and sending scouts to observe players in non-traditional environments.
  • Explore ways to automate club coach recommendations for the national teams and then analyse and statistically track the leading scouts across men’s and women’s football.
  • Ensure there is a nationwide system to identify and promote talent in Australia. This needs to include improvements to the level of expertise (both quality and quantity) in scouting and the creation of strong links between elite academies and local grassroots clubs. This will increase these entities’ interest in transitioning their players to the elite environment.

At the unveiling event at the Home of the Matildas, FIFA High Performance Specialist April Hendrichs said: “Football Australia’s TDS Talent Identification Project is an innovative initiative to identify emerging talents across the landscape of Australia for boys and girls. It will create a national conversation on what national-calibre players look like across youth age-groups. Football Australia’s approach is the first of its kind – a holistic and inclusive process, tracking top talents while engaging more coaches in the process,” Hendrichs concluded.

Taking onboard FIFA’s recommendations, Football Australia began streamlining its talent identification and development processes, with the aim of creating a world class environment for youth development, as guided by Principle 5 of the Football Australia’s XI Principles for the Future of Australian Football and aligned with Football Australia’s One Football Strategy 2022 – 2026.

Football Australia Chief Football Officer Ernie Merrick said that Football Australia’s revised approached to talent identification takes away the traditional barriers that once existed due to the geographical nature of Australia.

“Historically, players identified for our national youth teams have resided in major metropolitan areas, where they have been part of A-League club set-ups or in Member Federation programs,” Merrick explained.

“This approach to talent identification has often meant that players based regionally or who aren’t part of an existing elite pathway have little opportunity to get on the radar of national teams’ technical staff,” explained Merrick.

“To ensure our youth and senior national teams achieve success both within Asia and globally, it is vitally important we are identifying and developing the best players from all corners of Australia and that no one is left behind.

“We believe this bespoke approach will breakdown existing barriers to identification, where the Talent ID Webform will play a key role, providing an opportunity for accredited and approved coaches across Australia to submit technical assessments on players irrespective of where they live.

“Ultimately, the more talent we can identify and get into the right development programs, the stronger our national teams will be,” Merrick concluded.

Talent Development Scheme

Data Driven Talent Identification

For the greatest impact and efficiency of the local TDS project, Football Australia has purposely interconnected with key parts of Australian football’s development ecosystem. FA will ensure that Talent Development Matches are linked end-to-end with Competitions, Coach & Referee Education and Youth National Teams.

Data will be used to inform on reform, evolution and development of resources, processes, and implementation of programs to increase player progression through National Teams and team success in international tournaments.

Due to the vastness of Australia, Football Australia has developed a secure Talent ID Webform that will allow accredited and approved coaches to submit technical assessments on players at club matches, Member Federation Talent Development Matches and National Talent ID Events.

These assessments are made using the 6 Talent Descriptors –

  • Pressure
  • Protection
  • Positioning
  • Possession
  • Penetration
  • Presence

Assessments submitted across multiple capture points, will be stored within the one database. The centralised data storage unifies Football Australia’s nationwide approach to talent ID and ensures the TDS project means that every talent has a chance.

With a detailed reference guide and videos available on the Webform, further education will also be included within future online workshops and modules through Coach Education.

Talent Development Scheme
Talent Development Scheme

Multiple Capture Points

The core mission of Football Australia’s Talent ID and Development Strategy is to ensure that there are multiple capture points.

Players need to be seen, in different settings, at different times and over a long-term period as they go through periods of growth and maturation. To ensure every talent has a chance, Football Australia will ensure that talented players from regional areas, schools, clubs, elite programs, and academies are invited and observed in different events, with each recorded and monitored over time.

Underpinning Football Australia’s TDS is the scheduling of frequent Talent Development Matches in every State and Territory of Australia.

A Talent Development Match is a Member Federation run Talent ID (TID) match, where scouted and identified players are invited to play an 11v11 match.

Talent Development Scheme

Participating players should be selected from a range of teams, including:

  • Member Federation programs
  • National Premier League Clubs
  • Australian Professional League Clubs
  • Schools
  • Regional areas

The core mission of Football Australia’s Talent ID and Development Strategy is to ensure that there are multiple capture points.

Note: Football Australia Academies to be launched in 2024

Talent Development Matches – 2024 Calendar

To view when Football Australia’s Talent Development Matches will take place in 2024, CLICK HERE to access the One Football Calendar.