A new program has been launched to help develop the next generation of Australia’s elite female footballers.
The collaborative Future Matildas program, which started with sessions in mid-March, has been established to provide a tailored training environment for some of Australia’s most talented 15-20-year-old female footballers.
The program enables players to train and play regularly with other high-level players and access specialised coaching and support from a range of staff, many of whom are also involved with Australia’s senior women’s national side.
Football Federation Australia (FFA) has teamed up with the New South Wales Government, New South Wales Institute of Sport (NSWIS), and Football NSW to establish the Future Matildas initiative, which seeks to bridge the gap between the current and future generations of Westfield Matildas. The program has also received funding from the Australian Sports Commission.
In addition to supporting the advancement of the next generation of elite female footballers, the Future Matildas program has capacity to provide an environment where current Westfield Matildas can train outside of the Westfield W-League season should they not link with professional clubs overseas.
The NSW Minister for Sport, Stuart Ayres MP, FFA CEO, David Gallop AM, Westfield Matildas Head Coach, Alen Stajcic, FFA Head of National Performance, Luke Casserly, the CEO of Football NSW, Stuart Hodge, as well as NSWIS CEO, Kevin Thompson, were all on hand at today’s official program launch. Elite Australian female footballers Chloe Logarzo, Princess Ibini, Taylor Ray, Cortnee Vine, and MelindaJ Barbieri, were also present at Valentine Sports Park.
The program will run between the conclusion and start of each Westfield W-League season, initially through to the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
Westfield Matildas Head Coach Alen Stajcic, who is also the Future Matildas Program Advisor, has been integral to the establishment of the program.
Stajcic said that he believes the program will play a key role in helping to uncover and refine Westfield Matildas stars of the future.
“There is a significant daily training environment gap for young Australian female players, particularly during autumn and winter,” said Stajcic. “The Future Matildas program will help to fill this void, boosting talented players’ exposure to elite training and matches.”
“The Future Matildas program will be based out of Valentine Sports Park in Sydney, and ensure that our best young players are either training or playing six days a week.
"I am pleased that we have been able to work with the NSW Government, NSWIS and Football NSW to establish this program, which will provide a significant boost to our goal of becoming a top three ranked nation in world football,” he said.
In addition to Stajcic’s role as Future Matildas Program Advisor, current Westfield Matildas Assistant Coach, Gary van Egmond, has taken on the role of Head Coach of the program.
Van Egmond is being assisted by former Westfield Matilda Leah Blayney (Assistant Coach/Program Manager) and Jackson Kupke (Player Welfare Manager). Tony Wignell – who leads the Westfield Matildas’ sports science department – is overseeing the strength and conditioning side of the program with support from Drezina Bogovac, while NSWIS is represented by Program Manager, Kristen Barnes.
Sports Minister Stuart Ayres said the NSW Government, through New South Wales Institute of Sport, was proud to contribute $70,000 per year to support the program.
“I have been delighted to witness the growth of women’s football in New South Wales over the past few years – spearheaded by the success of the Matildas on an international stage including winning the 2017 Tournament of Nations and runners up at the 2018 AFC Women’s Asian Cup,” said Mr Ayres.
“There is every likelihood ‘Future Matildas’ nurtured through this program will compete on the world stage for Australia in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup which Australia hopes to host.”
The Future Matildas program will help Australia build towards significant international tournaments including the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France, the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, the 2022 AFC Women’s Asian Cup, as well as the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.