The much heralded Telstra Skill Acquisition Program (SAP) Championships played in Coffs Harbour over the June long weekend brought together more than 220 of Northern NSW’s most talented 11 and 12-year-old male football players.
The event that historically has been contested between the seven Northern NSW Football zones changed in 2017 when Football Far North Coast elected to partner with Southern Cross University, that subsequently brokered a licensing agreement with Liverpool FC International Academy. Although Football Far North Coast is no longer formally represented through a zone team at the event, the enormous talent in this region prompted an invitation to individual players to play in a Northern NSW Football ‘Select’ team in each age group.
Football Far North Coast based players comprised eleven of the fourteen players in the under 12’s squad and eight players in the under 11’s, with each being part of the Liverpool FC International Academy program locally.
Both NNSWF ‘Select’ teams performed exceptionally well. The 12 years team dominated across the park and finished the tournament undefeated across the three days of their championship campaign, while the 11 years team matched their older compatriots by finishing on top of the table in their age group as well.
The success at the Championships is a significant endorsement of the manner in which the Liverpool International Academy program is operating. Leveraging the talent locally, these players are displaying their commitment to the technical development being given at the Liverpool FC program every week, which is seeing the creation of a unique amazing opportunity for young people in our region.
A Talented Officials Program (TOP) Camp was also conducted in conjunction with the Championships and the region was represented by Isaac Peachey, Connor Barnden and referee assessor Luke Mackney. Sixteen of the most talented male match officials were selected from across the seven zones and each was given technical feedback and mentoring over the three days. Isaac Peachey was named as the one of the two best performed match officials across the weekend, with very positive feedback given to both of the young FFNC officials.
The purpose of the Championships includes identification of talented players and match officials, who are the future of our game. Participating with the “best of their peers” and also receiving technical feedback will ensure that each has a greater opportunity to pursue pathways to higher levels of competition. The Championships also provide rigorous competition and allows young football participants to experience like minded players and officials of their own age.
Congratulations to every individual who represented this region with such distinction.