Skills Acquisition Program (SAP)

What is SAP?

Our governing body, Football Federation Australia, use our own National Curriculum to implement the Skill Acquisition Program (SAP) to perfect and accelerate the skill development of identified players at the critical ages of 10 to 13. This is the age group universally acknowledged to be the ideal mental and physical stage in development which children are able to acquire motor skills.

The program is conducted from November to September with a Gala Day held monthly from February through to August. Breaks will be taken for school holidays (unless stipulated by Northern NSW Football). Training will take place twice a week and takes priority over club training.

Download the 2019 NCF SAP Player and Parent Handbook


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
  • 1v1
  • 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.

Appropriately qualified coaches will focus on a specific core skill in training, with Gala Days 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 coach or parent.

FAQ’S – SAP trialist information

What is the selection criteria?
An assessment on First touch will be the primary focus as well as striking the ball, 1 v 1, running with the ball and player behaviour and mentality.
Will unsuccessful trialists be provided feedback?
With well over 200 trialists, SAP coaches are not resourced to provide each player feedback.
How many trials will there be before squads are finalised?
As many as the SAP licensee requires depending on the size of each zone.
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 start and finish?
The 2018/9 SAP trials will held in the first two weeks of November 2018 for all squads. Training will continue for the selected 11 and 12 boys leading up to the Christmas holiday break. All selected squads will start training coinciding with the start of the 2019 school year though to September. These dates are subject to change, so please monitor your email, the Website and the Team App for communications.

Will the squads play competitive games?
The program is about technical development. SAP Gala Days will be held which will showcase all SAP (girls and boys) from around Northern NSW. This is not a result based event; it‘s about development only. This will be held at a centralised venue for either a one-day or two-day football Gala day.
How many players per squad?
Each SAP Program will differ but can have up to 2 or 3 squads if running a girls program also. Each squad will have 10-12 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 a specific goalkeeping coach 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 NNSW Football.