SAP Competition Analysis

There has been a lot of rumour around the traps in respect to the future of Football NSW Men’s & Boy’s competitions. So we put the magnifying glass over the current structures and evaluate the distribution of teams and licenses throughout the competitions.

As the Women’s Competition Structure has just been changed, we will just focus on SAP, Youth & Men’s competitions in this article. Ladies competitions will be analysed at a later date. We also will exclude Football NSW branches out of this analysis as there are different needs for Elite Development in these regions and deserve their own attention in their own rights.

In 2017, Football NSW was once again the largest Football State in Australia, 227,132 players participated in the 2017 Winter Season competition. Sydney Metropolitan branches accounted for 188,635 of these players. Football NSW Elite Competitions represented 11,659 participants in 2017.

Football NSW Skills Acquisition Program (SAP)

The Football NSW Skills Acquisition Program (SAP) has had varying success, although it has been acknowledged as a fantastic step forward for development of participants aged between 9 and 12, the rapid expansion of the licenses provided has quickly led to the demise of some of these licenses and the overall quality and integrity of the competition.

In some instances clubs such as Granville Rage have outsourced their SAP program to external academies to survive, whilst other programs have resorted to recruiting players who have never played football before and other programs have just run short in numbers.

Ultimately, SAP has been a great development competition for Football, however with a lack of adequate licenses distribution based on participant numbers, the competition was always bound to find its demise.

On average (using male participant numbers & excluding Girls SAP) there is a SAP license for every 3,662 male participants in Football NSW. The distribution of licenses has a large variance; Southern Districts Association has 5 licenses with 1,403 participants per program, whilst Central Coast Football has a sole program representing 11,066 participants. This is a poor distribution and actually hinders potential talented players in in more populated regions.

If we were to review the current license distribution and then consider issuing license on a per head basis, it would be fair to state that a license should exist for every 3,500 grassroots participants in that region.
Below we see the current distribution of licenses:

Current Football NSW Skills Acquisition Program (SAP)
Association Clubs Grassroots Participants Team per players
Southern Districts 5 7,014 1,403
Bankstown 3 5,284 1,761
Granville 3 5,512 1,837
Blacktown 4 8,196 2,049
Eastern Suburbs 3 6,977 2,326
St George 3 7,293 2,431
Macarthur 2 8,082 4,041
Northern Suburbs 3 12,572 4,191
Canterbury 3 12,620 4,207
Football South Coast 2 8,899 4,450
Nepean 2 9,712 4,856
Gladesville 2 12,237 6,119
Manly 2 12,414 6,207
Sutherland 2 12,819 6,410
Hills 1 9,463 9,463
Central Coast 1 11,066 11,066
Total 41 150,160 3,662

However if we were to apply to 3,500 per license rule, the SAP structure would look per below.
Although this would lead to 2 additional metro SAP licenses, the actually distribution per players would be a lot more appropriate.

Football NSW Skills Acquisition Program (SAP)
Association Current Grassroots Participants Proposed
Southern Districts 5 7,014 2
Bankstown 3 5,284 2
Granville 3 5,512 2
Blacktown 4 8,196 2
Eastern Suburbs 3 6,977 2
St George 3 7,293 2
Macarthur 2 8,082 2
Northern Suburbs 3 12,572 4
Canterbury 3 12,620 4
Football South Coast 2 8,899 3
Nepean 2 9,712 3
Gladesville 2 12,237 3
Manly 2 12,414 4
Sutherland 2 12,819 4
Hills 1 9,463 3
Central Coast 1 11,066 3
Total 41 150,160 43

This may seem logical from a pure statistical analysis, ultimately Football in NSW is hamstrung by the historical and political agendas at play. Who would run new programs located in regions such as Manly and Sutherland, or more importantly which clubs would lose their programs in areas such as Southern Districts, Bankstown, St George and Granville?

At the end of the day, big decisions have to occur for Football in NSW to grow to its full potential, and to produce more quality players for our Beautiful Game. Programs should be issued on the merits of the club or association running them and what will be most beneficial for the players who partake in the programs. The proof is evident in the current SAP program, where the quality of the program doesn’t reflect the level in the pyramid where their senior teams participate. Some programs are run in the best interests for the participants, whilst some programs utilise the program as a cash-cow for their First Grade player payments, with no interest in the development outcomes for their participants.

It is time for football to stand up for the development of players and to instill programs and make decisions in the best interest of the sport and not those who politically strong-arm our peak body and its membership.

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