The Australian Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) today heralded Football Federation Australia’s bold football development plans to “make Australia a world leader in the world game”.

“We are delighted FFA has today announced vital plans to establish a culture of technical excellence within Australian football; a culture underpinned by linking grass roots football to its international heights through quality development pathways featuring the A-League,” said PFA Executive Chairman Brendan Schwab.


“The PFA congratulates FFA on its comprehensive approach to an issue that is fundamental to Australia’s international competitiveness in the world game.  FFA’s approach will see players develop a relationship with the ball from a young age and subsequently access quality coaching through the pursuit of an elite development pathway.


“We are delighted to see that the game is not complacent about its traditionally high participation rates.  Increasing numbers of boys and girls can be attracted to play football and become elite players of the future and life long fans of the Australian game,” Schwab added.


The PFA sees a direct relationship between technical and commercial success for Australian football.


“A-League fans are captivated by our young technically gifted stars, including Nathan Burns, Mark Bridge, Michael Zullo, Bruce Djite and Robbie Kruse,” Schwab said.  “To be competitive, we need to produce even more players of this caliber, and invest thoroughly in developing them as footballers, people and especially outstanding role models and ambassadors for our game.


“Of immediate benefit to PFA members will be the establishment of the National Youth League and the National Women’s League.  Both of these initiatives will fill vital gaps and enable young elite players to fully explore Australian opportunities before seeking to transfer overseas.”


The PFA fully participated in the review processes, and compiled a comprehensive submission that included extensive research into the international career path options pursued by Australian players since the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.  The PFA’s research demonstrated a number of important trends, including:


  • only 15% of Australian players transferred to European clubs ranked as “category 1” clubs by FIFA.  These clubs include the highest divisions of the world’s best leagues, including England, Spain, France, Italy and Germany.  It is this level of play that is crucial to the on-field success of the Socceroos;
  • only 22% of Australians overseas are playing with Category 1 clubs;
  • only 8% of Australian players moved to a higher ranked club after first transferring to Europe; and
  • for the overwhelming majority of players, their first stint with a European club lasted for only one season.


These statistics indicate that even on the global stage, the game provides short term and precarious opportunities for players.  The initiatives announced by FFA today will help maximise the attractiveness of the Australian based career path, whilst at the same time better preparing players for the potential opportunities of the world’s best leagues.


“The PFA has a vital role to play in ensuring the success of FFA’s plans,” Schwab said.  “The PFA will continue to work with FFA, A-League Clubs and players to ensure the game strategically manages each player’s career path.  in particular, the PFA will continue to work to ensure each Australian footballer has access to collective and individual management and development services of the highest order.”
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