Football Federation Australia’s Centre of Excellence in Canberra will close later this year as part of a strategy to provide opportunities for many more talented young players around Australia.
The changes continue FFA’s strategy of putting clubs - including Hyundai A-League, Westfield W-League and National Premier League clubs - at the heart of player development.
“The Centre of Excellence has served Australian football well over a long period but the time has come for change,” said FFA CEO David Gallop.
“We are working with clubs and Member Federations to create a player development system that will be able to grow with the game around the country, recognises the evolution of Hyundai A-League and Westfield W-League clubs and their academies and meets the requirements of our national junior teams programs.
“While the Centre of Excellence has helped to produce great players and still delivers a quality product, it caters to a maximum of 24 boys at Under 16 and Under 17 level at a cost of $1.6 million a year.
“We believe FFA resources can be better used in a decentralised and expanded system that provides opportunities for many more young male and female players within club settings around Australia.
“The reality is that increasingly, some talented young players are choosing to stay with their local clubs or find places in Hyundai A-League academies and our schools program. Even among those who have attended the Centre of Excellence in recent years, fewer than half have gone on to become professional players.
“This is no reflection on the staff who have always shown great professionalism and commitment to this program and the boys. But it does demonstrate how the game is evolving in Australia and why we need to change.”
The five staff members, as well as the 20 players currently on scholarships and their parents, were informed of the decision and the reasons behind it earlier this afternoon.
The Centre will close in late August from a football perspective with the players given the option of remaining in Canberra until the end of the school year should they wish to do so.
Arrangements for staff during the transition are being discussed individually with each staff member based on the nature of their employment. All staff will be supported through the FFA’s Employee Assistance Program.
Following the closure, the Joeys, Australia’s Under 17 male team, will be developed through a program of camps and tournaments similar to the other junior Australian teams.