Skill Acquisition Program (SAP)



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 10. 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 winter program is conducted over 3, 6 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 each groups SAP co-ordinator). Training will take place twice a week and takes priority over club training. The ideal week would be as follows: Monday - SAP training, Wednesday - Club Training, Friday - SAP Training and Sunday - Club Game. In total players will participate in exactly 36 sessions and 3 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.




Functional game skills.


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.



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 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.



1. What is the selection criteria?


First touch will be the primary focus as well as striking the ball, one v one, running with the ball and player mentality


2. Will unsuccessful trialists be provided feedback?


No. With well over 1000 trialists we are not resourced to provide each player feedback. The most common reason for non selection is “Poor first touch in tight areas”.


3. How many trials will there be before squads are finalised?


As many as the SAP technical department sees fit. We envisage there will be at least three phases of trials.


4. Where are the training venues and when is training?


It is expected that two sessions will be completed weekly. If there is a clash with your club training, we hope the SAP Foundation squad training is prioritised, however this needs to be agreed and discussed with the clubs affected.


We hope SAP Foundation squads train on non-traditional training nights. Players then return to clubs for the weekly match.


5. When will the program commence and conclude?


Details on starting dates are to be provided by FFV. Southern United will update players and parents once issued by FFV.


6. Will the squads play competitive games?


The program is about technical development. There will be SAP gala days which will showcase all SAP Foundation squads (girls and boys) from around Victoria at a centralised venue for a one-day football festival.


7. How many players per squad?


Each venue will differ but can have up to 2 or 3 squads if running a girls program also. Each squad will have 12 players.


8. Who will I trial with?


You will trial with players with similar age. Please note we take into account the RELATIVE AGE EFFECT.


9. 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-only training offered in the SAP Foundation squads.


10. Is the program open to females?


Yes the program does cater for girls. Where there are not girls-only programs, girls are encouraged 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 the SAP Technical team.



MORE INFORMATION For more information about the FFA Skill Acquisition Program, please contact FFV