The Socceroos v Japan: most players progress via the national competition and elite development system to international club success.

The PFA has welcomed Australia’s next generation of elite professional footballers as members as part of an important initiative to assist young players in successfully mapping their football careers.  Earlier this week, the PFA conducted an information session to over 100 elite amateur footballers from Australia’s National Training Centres and Institutes, who are competing in a week long tournament at the AIS in Canberra.  The session is part of the My Football Career program, which the PFA conducts with Football Federation Australia.

The information session consisted of an introduction to the PFA and the My Football Career program and covered the important topics of signing contracts, player agents and an historical analysis of the pathway to professionalism in Australia. Great emphasis was placed on the need for players to get good advice and actively plan their career, with a focus on development both on and off the field.
“A fundamental part of an elite athlete’s success is to build up a strong team and support network that they can rely on throughout their career. Football, unlike any other sport in Australia, will require many challenging and life changing decisions on its players at a relatively young age. Better decisions can only be made once researched information and the experience of others has been considered” said Steve Milicevic, the PFA’s Head of Player Relations.

Based on the PFA’s research, a successful overseas career is more likely to occur after the player has completed a scholarship at an Australian NTC/Institute and played in Australia’s national competitions. Of the 31 Socceroos who played in the World Cup and Asian Cup finals, 23 had played in the NSL or A-League and 17 completed a scholarship at the AIS or state NTC/Institute. Young players should not rush to go overseas thinking that they can start low and work themselves up to bigger and better clubs, the first club a player joins overseas is far more likely to be the best level he will play at. Only 8% of Australian players who have played overseas have actually been able to do well and play in a better category of club. Of this 8%, 90% of them went through the AIS, and yes, most of them are Socceroos.

Recognising the need of young players to access accurate and independent information in their decision making, elite amateurs can join the PFA free of charge.