New Zealand Football believes in equipping every young player to “be the best they can be.” For some, that will mean setting their sights on a place in the All Whites or Football Ferns. Performing at this elite level is a hugely satisfying achievement and a great motivator for the next generation of stars.
Evidence from leading football nations coupled with academic research has shown the importance of talent development systems to maximise potential.
The first step is to develop greater numbers of talented players during the key early development years. The most able and motivated players can find their way into top class football, and our national teams will have a bigger talent pool to keep them competitive on the world stage.
Federation Talent Centres provide the missing link. As part of our Whole of Football Plan, they form a major part of the structure that will help us to develop more world-class players.
The goals of the new pathway:
- To widen and improve the talent base through comprehensive scouting and development opportunities
- Create a pathway for talented players to progress towards higher representative honours, starting with national age group teams at U-17 – motivate players to get and stay involved
- Implement a national approach for the development of talented young kiwi players that can prepare them for the future game at the highest levels
- Create a pool of highly capable talent development coaches – the best coaches with the best players
- The talent development arm of the national player development framework focuses on providing players with more and better opportunities ‘to become the best that they can be. For some that may mean reaching world class status and for others it may simply mean playing for the first XI of their local club, school or federation team.
How does the Talent Development Pathway work?
From the age of 12 years, a large number of talented players attend trials and, or are identified within club or school football and invited to the Federation Talent Centre programme within their region, for extra training that can lead to region and federation representation.
At 13+ years, there are two pathways young players can take based on their current ability and commitment levels.
Firstly, a small percentage of players who are identified as gifted – and who are fully committed to achieving world-class status – will find themselves on the ‘Talent Excel Pathway’. These players are exposed to an accelerated development opportunity where the training focus is intensified to help them achieve future national representation at the U-17 FIFA World Cups and beyond into professional football via attendance at National Talent Centres (NTCs).
Other players will find great opportunities to reach their potential within our Talent Perform Pathway. All players will receive extra training and have the opportunity to progress to federation level representation via the National Age Grade Tournament. Optimal opportunities are given to players to stay in touch with the Talent Excel pathway through scouting and other methods designed to monitor and assess the player’s suitability for higher level playing and training opportunities. The Talent Perform pathway concludes with exit routes leading towards the highest levels of amateur football, Stirling Sports Premiership Youth and National leagues, USA college scholarships and national representative honours.