The Skill Acquisition Program (SAP) provides a clear, professionally delivered development opportunity for young footballers in NSW.

NSFA operate three Skill Acquisition Program (SAP) licences:

  • Northern Tigers (NT) SAP – U9/U10/U11/U12
  • Northern Lions (NSFA) SAP – U9/U10/U11/U12
  • Northern Tigers FC Girls Only SAP – U10/U11/U12/U13

Our SAP Philosophy

  1. Develop people and players for Northern Tigers FC senior teams (and beyond).
  2. Provide a positive and enjoyable learning environment for the players.
  3. Primary focus is on individual player development and understanding of the game within in a team context.
  4. Long-term player development outcomes are more important than short-term performance fluctuations.
  5. Players are encouraged to be competitive and win games but not at the expense of our principles and long-term development objectives.
  6. These principles are reflected in our style of play, coaching styles and program structure:
  • Match day teams are of a similar/equal ability in each age group
  • Players are rotated between teams on a regular basis
  • Players have equal opportunity to play in all playing positions (over the duration of the season), including Goalkeeper
  • Players have fair and equal game time opportunities (on a given match day)
  • Players are encouraged to make decisions for themselves
  • Mistakes are viewed as learning opportunities
  • Effort is rewarded

Player Eligibility

To register for these SAP programs, players must reside within boundaries of either the Northern Suburbs Football Association or Central Coast Football, as per Football NSW regulations. Proof of residency is required at the time of registration.

2018 Player Selection Process

The NSFA Lions, Northern Tigers SAP, Northern Tigers Girls Only player selection process for the 2018 season will change from the one off Trial Day/s process conducted in previous years. The one off trial day/window process makes informed decisions difficult when taking into account our philosophy of long-term player development. Some issues include:

  1. Players can miss attending the trial window due to sickness, injury, holiday, other sport commitments, lack of awareness of the trial window.
  2. Players unfamiliar with the process of a selection trial may become nervous, conservative, and not perform to their potential in a one off trial scenario
  3. Due to the volume of players attending the trials and the limited time to conduct the trial; the process does not allow for a thorough assessment of a players potential
  4. The assessment of players can only be limited to technical skills, important attributes related to attitude and the capability to develop in the long term cannot be assessed
  5. The process can be stressful for players and parents.

Changes made for 2018

  • The process will stretch over a number of months in 2017 (observe more players, multiple times, in different environments)
  • Gaining input from a number of different stakeholders (to reach more players and provide a more holistic assessment of each player)
  • Take into consideration as many players as possible born between 2006 and 2009
  • Players are identified and assessed in a number of different ways throughout the 2017 season:
  1. NSFA representatives attend local NSFA games to observe players participating in a familiar environment. Players are identified and invited to multiple sessions to be assessed by SAP coaches.
  2. NSFA identify high performing community teams and invite them to ‘SAP Experience’ training sessions to be assessed by SAP coaches.
  3. NSFA request clubs to identify potentially talented players at their club against a set of criteria. These players are invited to multiple sessions to be assessed by SAP coaches.
  4. Players identified at NSFA Football School/Holiday Clinics programs are invited to multiple sessions to be assessed by SAP coaches.
  5. Players can express an interest in trialling for SAP via the NSFA/Northern Tigers website – NSFA representatives then seek out more information from the players’ club and possibly invite them to attend some sessions to be assessed by SAP coaches.
  6. Existing SAP players are continually assessed during the season, including two formal assessments.

Selection Process Timeline for 2018

June to August 2017 Identify players in community football who are currently not playing SAP
August 2017 Seek expressions of interest from existing SAP players for 2018
August 2017 Invite identified community players and existing SAP players to 5 weeks of SAP Games in August/September 2017 for further assessment.
August/September 2017 Conduct 5 weeks of SAP Games
End September 2017 First Round Offers Released for SAP places in 2018
Early October 2017 First Round Offers Acceptance due
Early October 2017 Second Round Offers (if required) Released for SAP places in 2018
Mid October 2017 Second Round Offers (if required) Acceptance due
Early November 2017 SAP 2018 training commences

NSFA operate three Skill Acquisition Program (SAP) licences:

  • Northern Tigers (NT) SAP – U9/U10/U11/U12
  • Northern Suburbs Football Association (NSFA) SAP – U9/U10/U11/U12
  • Northern Tigers FC Girls Only SAP – U10/U11/U12/U13

If you have any questions that cannot be answered by the information below please email

What is the Skill Acquisition Program?

SAP is a football development program of the highest standard and is for talented and committed players who would like to take the first step on an representative player pathway. SAP is the start of the FNSW/FFA official pathway for players. SAP teams can be made up of both boys and girls (where the majority of players are boys), and there is also a Girls Only SAP option.

Consistent with the skill acquisition phase of the FFA National Curriculum the focus is on core skill development. This technical development will provide the foundation for players to later progress into National Premier League Youth teams and beyond.

In addition to regular training sessions, players will be able to showcase their skills against other SAP licences from the metro area and outer Sydney areas in a season of scheduled non-competition games and gala days.

Why are there 3 SAP licences (NT SAP, NSFA SAP, NT Girls Only SAP) run by NSFA?

NSFA have run one SAP licence (Northern Tigers SAP) since Football NSW (FNSW) introduced SAP in 2013. The number of players’ trialling for a place in the Northern Tigers SAP program has continued to grow over the past few seasons, resulting in many talented and motivated local players missing out on an opportunity. The additional SAP licence (NSFA SAP) and Girls Only SAP now provide greater opportunities to satisfy the local demand for this level of development for boys and girls.

What is the difference between NT SAP and NSFA SAP?

The NSFA Technical Director is responsible for both licences ensuring consistency across both programs, including but not limited to: football philosophy, coaching quality and style, periodised annual season plans, training and match day structures.

The main differences will be with regard to:

  1. Coaches – NT SAP and NSFA SAP will have their own unique coaching teams (although both of equivalent standard).
  2. Training locations – NT SAP training locations are in the central/southern part of the association, while NSFA SAP are in the northern part of the association (read on for more details on training venues). Training has been split this way to try and eliminate excessive travel to training venues.
Who can trial for NT SAP, NSFA SAP, NT Girls Only SAP?

Only players living in the NSFA region (within the Met Far North State Titles boundaries) are eligible represent NT SAP, NSFA SAP and NT Girls Only SAP. Proof of residential address will be required when selected. Please note this is a FNSW regulation.

Can a child register to play for a local club team and SAP at the same time during 2018?

No. Players are not permitted to be dual registered for a local team and a SAP team (this is a Football NSW regulation).

How many teams and players will be selected in each SAP licence in 2018?
Age Group Year Born NT SAP Squads NSFA SAP Squads NT Girls Only SAP
U9 2009 & 2010 20 (16 boys + 4 girls) 20 (16 boys + 4 girls) NA
U10 2008 24 (20 boys + 4 girls) 24 (20 boys + 4 girls) 14
U11 2007 24 (20 boys + 4 girls) 24 (20 boys + 4 girls) 14
U12 2006 24 (20 boys + 4 girls) 24 (20 boys + 4 girls) 14
U13 2005 NA NA 14

NB: The player numbers above are the maximum squad sizes; these do not have to be achieved if it is deemed the potential player quality does not justify selection.


  • 2 teams in each age group with 2 coaches per age group
  • Each age group trains as one squad, with the squad split into 2 teams of similar ability for the weekend games (players are rotated between the teams over the season)
  • U9 – 7 v 7 game format
  • U10/U11/U12 – 9 v 9 game format

NT Girls Only SAP:

  • 1 team in each age group
  • 9 v 9 game format
When, where and what time are the training sessions and weekend games?


Training sessions 3 sessions per week 3 sessions per week 3 sessions per week
Training Days TBC* TBC* TBC*
Training Start Time Between 4.45pm and 7pm* Between 4.45pm and 7pm* Between 4.45pm and 7pm*
Training Duration 1hr to 1r 15min 1hr to 1r 15min 1hr to 1r 15min
Training locations Charles Bean Oval (Lindfield) North Turramurra Recreation Area (NTRA) North Turramurra Recreation Area (NTRA)
Games 1 per weekend(Sat or Sun) 1 per weekend(Sat or Sun) 1 per weekend(Sat or Sun)
Home Game Location Charles Bean (Lindfield)/


NTRA Charles Bean (Lindfield)/


Kick Off Times** U9: 8.30am/9.30am

U10: 8.30am/9.30am

U11: 10.30am/11.30am

U12: 10.30am/11.30am

U9: 8.30am/9.30am

U10: 8.30am/9.30am

U11: 10.30am/11.30am

U12: 10.30am/11.30am

Season Duration February to August:

Training from early Feb

Games from late Feb

February to August:

Training from early Feb

Games from late Feb

February to August:

Training from early Feb

Games from late Feb

*Waiting on ground availability confirmation and coach availability confirmation before specific training days and times for each age group can be released.
**Away games can vary in terms of kick off times

Will there be any training in the period after the trials and before Christmas?

In November, there will be a few weeks of training (1 or 2 sessions per week). The primary purpose in this period is for the players and coaches to get to know each other.

What are the player fees for SAP in 2018?

The full cost of the program per player including player kit is $1,500 incl GST.

Can you trial/play an age group up?

All new players are initially considered for selection in their own age group unless specifically told otherwise by the NSFA Technical Director.  Assessments will be made by the coaching staff to determine if it is in the player’s best interest to play up (or down) an age group.  Players born in Oct/Nov/Dec may (in certain circumstances) be able to play in the age group below (determined by FNSW’s Relative Age Effect guidelines).

Are dedicated Goalkeepers selected for each age group/team?

If a player in any age group is interested in playing Goalkeeper we will certainly consider/select them as a dedicated Goalkeeper. If there are no dedicated Goalkeepers selected then players are rotated into the Goalkeeper position on a weekly basis for games. Goalkeepers are provided with Goalkeeper specific training.

Should girls play in mixed SAP or Girls Only?

Girls have a choice to be considered for both the mixed and Girls Only programs. Each individual’s preference is considered, along with coach recommendations, in consultation with parents.

What are the player development options for players not selected into a SAP squad?

Identify a local NSFA club with a commitment to player development, this should include a commitment to coaching standards (including but not limited to coach accreditation standards, supporting the FFA National Curriculum in terms of playing style and age specific training content).

Additional curriculum based professional training can be obtained via the XLR8 Football School, a player development training program for U6 to U14 players. The Football School operates in each school term; training can be once or twice a week at a number of different venues within NSFA. Email Head Coach Eilidh Mackay for more details

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