A key aspect of the Football Federation Australia National Curriculum is the implementation of a Skill Acquisition Program (SAP) to perfect and accelerate the skill development of identified players at the critical ages of 9 to 13. This is the age group universally acknowledged to be the optimal mental and physical phase in which children are able to learn motor skills.
The program is conducted over three, six-week blocks throughout the regular season with a Gala Day at the end of each block. Breaks will be taken after each Gala Day and for school holidays (unless stipulated by the SAP licensee). Training will take place twice a week and takes priority over club training. In total players will participate in exactly 36 sessions and three Gala Days.
To provide the necessary technical ‘tools’ to players in order to help them be able to play the game at the highest possible level with a focus on functional game skills.
The Skill Acquisition Program focuses on the development of the four core skills:
- Striking the ball
- First Touch
- Running with the ball
An absolute requirement is placed on an immediate skills transfer into positioning and small-sided games. It is based on world’s best practice and has been developed by internationally acclaimed technical coaches and the FFA technical department.
The most critical aspect of SAP is the training environment and youth training plan provided to the licensee by the local Skill Acquisition Program Head Coach, implemented appropriately by trained instructors. Licensees focus on a specific core skill in training, with Gala Days and club matches providing players the opportunity to test these skills in a competitive environment. It is important to recognise that the match in isolation should not be the focus of the licensee, coach or parent.
Perception SAP is an elite program
SAP was developed to provide the best learning environment to a large group of players in order to prepare them for the technical and tactical challenges of PlayStation 4 National Premier Leagues (NPL) football that may feed into Talented Player Programs. SAP is therefore open to all players within the eligible age range each year.
Any club or program running SAP must charge no more than $10 per session (inclusive of GST). Across a 36-session season the maximum amount charged per player is $360. This includes participation at Gala Days, ground hire, equipment and training kit. It is up to each licensee to set the program fee within the $360 maximum.
FAQ’S – SAP trialist information
- What is the selection criteria?
First touch will be the primary focus as well as striking the ball, 1 v 1, running with the ball and player mentality.
- Will unsuccessful trialists be provided feedback?
No. With well over 1000 trialists, SAP licensees are not resourced to provide each player feedback.
- How many trials will there be before squads are finalised?
As many as the SAP licensee sees fit.
- Where are the training venues and when is training?
It is expected that two training sessions will be completed weekly. If there is a clash with your club training, it is hoped that SAP is prioritised, however this needs to be agreed and discussed with the clubs affected. Where possible, SAP squads are encouraged to train on non-traditional club training nights. Players then return to clubs for the weekly match.
- When will the program commence and conclude?
The 2016 SAP will commence from Monday April 11 and conclude on Saturday September 10.
- Will the squads play competitive games?
The program is about technical development. SAP Gala Days will be held which will showcase all SAP licensees (girls and boys) from around Victoria at a centralised venue for a one-day football festival.
- How many players per squad?
Each SAP licensee will differ but can have up to 2 or 3 squads if running a girls program also. Each squad will have 12 players.
- Who will I trial with?
You will trial with players similar in age. Please note we take into account the Relative Age Effect.
- Is the program open to goalkeepers?
Yes the program does cater for goalkeepers. The modern goalkeeper needs to be competent in each of the four core skills. There is no specific goalkeeper training offered in the Skill Acquisition Program.
- Is the program open to females?
Yes the program does cater for girls. Where there are not girls squads, girls are eligible to trial with the boys. In some cases girls may be offered the opportunity of a position in the boys group, subject to approval from FFV.
- Why are the birth years for eligibility different between the boys programs and girls programs?
The difference in ages is due to the fact that there is a talented player pathway for Under 12 boys playing at NPL level, whereas at present there is no girls equivalent. In order to close this gap, Girls SAP is open to Under 12 girls. The next logical progression after this for girls is playing at NPL level in the Under 13 girls age group.
For more information about SAP, please contact