Football South Australia (SA) announced the expansion of its Development Centres for boys and girls from ages nine to 13.
This expansion will offer more football and more opportunities for players in the Barossa, Noarlunga, Port Lincoln and Metropolitan Adelaide.
The five new centres add to the four currently located in the Limestone Coast, Whyalla, Riverland and the Adelaide Hills, taking the total up to nine centres in 2024.
Much of the talk has been the incredible impact that the home soil FIFA Women’s World Cup has had on football participation in the country across all age groups. There has been a notable uptick in player participation in regional areas , registering a 16.5% increase. Across the entire state, there is overall growth of 9%.
The key goal of the Football SA Development Centres expansion is to lay the grassroots foundation in place and create a suitable environment for kids so that their talent is recognised and captured by coaches.
These added sessions as a result of the expansion are designed not to conflict with existing club activities and will enhance players’ fundamental footballing skills.
Football SA Technical Director Michael Cooper touched on the opportunity this opens up for player development at the early ages.
“When we started the original program in 2023, we had the vision to implement a state-wide program that provides equal opportunities for players to progress to our State programs and offerings, which are highly regarded nationally,” Cooper said via Football SA press release.
“Taking our programs to regional South Australia has prevented the need for young players to travel week in week out to Adelaide for specialised coaching. This illustrates our support for regional associations and pathways we collectively offer.
“We are excited to see all players come together at events such as the State Development Carnival in July and I am confident more players will be identified from regional areas in the future.”
An issue Football South Australia touched on in their 2023-2026 Strategic Plan was the lack of regional players making the transition into state and regional squads.
The key function of Football SA, as mentioned on their website, has always been player development and to increase participation. This Development Centre expansion will service the regional communities and allow potential talented players, who weren’t recognised before, to grow through a natural pathway up until they represent state squads.