FFA Centre of Excellence

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FFA Centre of Excellence
FFA Centre of Excellence.png
Full nameFFA Centre of Excellence
GroundAustralian Institute of Sport
LeagueNational Youth League
National Premier Leagues
Current season

The FFA Centre of Excellence (formerly the Australian Institute of Sport Football Program) was a football talent identification and player development program run by Football Federation Australia (FFA) and was based at the Australian Institute of Sport, in Canberra. The Centre of Excellence ran this program for men: the program was one of the eight founding sports of the AIS in 1981. The FFA announced that the Centre would close at the end of 2017. [1]


The AIS soccer program was funded by the Australian Federal Government, through the Australian Sports Commission. In 2005–2006 this funding amounted to A$1,115,000.[2] The format involved 20 students per year selected for an initial period of 12 months training and study, with the additional option of a second year. The men's program was residential, while the women's was training camp-based. Students were generally 15–17 years old when selected and required to have current, or pending, Australian citizenship.

The original stated aim of the men's program was

"To identify and develop players for the national under-20 youth team and to develop coaches through the Scholarship Coaching scheme".

Head Coaches[edit]

National representation[edit]

Following the decision of several soccer graduates to represent other countries at a senior national level (e.g. Josip Simunic), the AIS implemented contracts whereby the cost of the scholarship would later have to be repaid by any graduate who went on to play soccer at a senior level representing a country - other than Australia - in international competition.[3]

World Cup[edit]

AIS soccer has developed many players to represent Socceroos at the FIFA World Cup.

2006 Germany[edit]

John Aloisi (1992), Marco Bresciano (1997), Brett Emerton (1995-1996), Joshua Kennedy (1998-1999), Mark Milligan (2002), Craig Moore (1992-1993), Lucas Neill (1994-1995), Josip Skoko (1992-1993), Mile Sterjovski (1996-1996), Mark Viduka (1992-1993) and Luke Wilkshire (1998), Josip Šimunić (1994-1996) for Croatia [1]

2010 South Africa[edit]

Lucas Neill (captain) (1994-1995), Craig Moore (1992-1993), Brett Emerton (1995-1996), Luke Wilkshire (1998), Joshua Kennedy (1998-1999), Adam Federici (2002), Vince Grella (1996-1997), Carl Valeri (2000-2001), Nikita Rukavytsya (2005-2006), Mark Milligan (2002), Dario Vidosic (2005-2006), Marco Bresciano (1997), Josip Šimunić (1994-1996) for Croatia [1]

2014 Brazil[edit]

Marco Bresciano (1997), James Holland (2006-2007), Mitchell Langerak (2005-2006), Matt McKay (2000-2001), Mark Milligan (2002), Matthew Spiranovic (2006), Dario Vidosic (2005-2006) [1]

Competition participation[edit]

National Soccer League[edit]

The AIS fielded teams in the former National Soccer League's youth competition. Within that competition it was placed in the Northern Division. The AIS won three titles, in 1986, 1998 and 1999.

Victorian Premier League[edit]

The men's program had previously entered a team in the New South Wales Premier League competition in 2005. In 2007 the AIS entered a team into the Victorian Premier League. This would allow regular, weekly competitive matches that were lacking for previous scholarship holders.[4] As part of their inclusion as the only non-Victorian team in the VPL competition, all 'home' fixtures were played in Victoria for the 2007 season. The side struggled for consistency throughout the season, finishing 12th on the ladder, however great benefit was reportedly gained from the participation in a men's competition. In 2008 the men's program team continued to participate in the Victorian Premier League, improving from the previous year as the AIS finished 8th on the ladder. AIS home games were also played in Canberra, while some high-profile matches which includes the Round 21 match between the AIS and the Preston Lions FC was played in Country Victoria at Rumbalara Oval, Shepparton. This was designed to promote the competition and bring the top state league competition to new areas.

However the men's program team will cease to compete in the Victorian Premier League competition for 2009, as the AIS program will be designed to accommodate younger players, hence eliminating the need to compete in a senior men's competition.[5]

National Youth League[edit]

On 3 July 2009 it was announced the AIS would compete in the National Youth League.[6]

In August 2017 the Centre of Excellence was closed by the FFA.[7][8]


The following 19 players from across Australia were selected for scholarships in 2016.[9]

No. Position Name Club
1 GK Matthew Sutton Australia Sydney FC
2 DF James Fletcher Australia Canberra United
3 DF Patrick Scibilio Australia FNSW NTC
5 DF Joel King Australia FNSW NTC
6 MF Kai Trewin Australia Canberra United
7 FW Jacob Italiano Australia Perth Glory
8 MF Eduardo Castaneda Australia FFTAS NTC
9 FW John Roberts Australia FNSW NTC
10 MF Lachlan Brook Australia FFSA NTC
11 FW Mirza Muratovic Australia Sydney United
12 GK Jordan Griffiths Australia Brisbane Olympic
15 DF Luke Callen Australia Newcastle Jets
17 MF Louis D'Arrigo Australia FFSA NTC
19 FW Mark Moric Australia Sydney United
20 FW Bryce Bafford Australia Perth Glory
21 FW Melad Ahmad Australia FFSA NTC
22 FW Jaidon Selden Australia Perth Glory

Notable alumni[edit]

List of players with 10 caps or more for their country. Names in bold for players who represented their Country at a FIFA World Cup.

Name Club Position Years Current status Country International caps
Frank Farina FW 1982–83 Coaching Australia 67
Warren Spink Australia Cooks Hill United FW 1983–84 Coaching Australia 38
Robbie Hooker DF 1984–85 Retired Australia 22
Jason Polak MF 1985–87 Retired Australia 32
Paul Trimboli Australia Melbourne Victory FW 1986 Manager Australia 46
Jason van Blerk Australia Central Coast Mariners Academy MF 1986 Coaching Australia 33
Craig Foster MF 1986–87 Media Australia 29
Steve Horvat DF 1987–88 Retired Australia 32
Shaun Murphy DF 1988 Retired Australia 18
Ned Zelić DF 1988 Media Australia 34
George Sorras FW 1989–90 Retired Australia 27
Alistair Edwards Malaysia Johor Darul Ta'zim FW 1988 Coaching Australia 19
Steve Corica Australia Sydney FC MF 1989–90 Coaching Australia 32
Kevin Muscat Australia Melbourne Victory DF 1990–91 Coaching Australia 46
Craig Moore Australia Coomera Colts DF 1992–93 Coaching Australia 52
Hayden Foxe Australia Western Sydney Wanderers DF 1993–94 Coaching Australia 11
Josip Skoko MF 1992–93 Retired Australia 51
John Aloisi FW 1992–93 Coaching Australia 55
Mark Viduka FW 1992–93 Retired Australia 43
Lucas Neill DF 1994–95 Retired Australia 96
Josip Šimunić DF 1995–96 Retired Croatia 105
Brett Emerton MF 1996 Retired Australia 95
Vince Grella MF 1996 Agent Australia 46
Simon Colosimo DF 1996–97 Retired Australia 26
Anthony Šerić MF 1996–97 Retired Croatia 16
Mile Sterjovski MF 1996–98 Retired Australia 43
Mark Bresciano MF 1997 Retired Australia 84
Ivan Ergić MF 1997–98 Retired Serbia 11
Luke Wilkshire Australia Wollongong Wolves MF 1997–98 Coaching Australia 80
Joshua Kennedy FW 1998–99 Media Australia 36
Jade North DF 1999 Playing Australia 41
Alex Brosque Australia Sydney FC FW 2001 Playing Australia 21
Matt McKay Australia Brisbane Roar MF 2001 Playing Australia 59
Carl Valeri Australia Melbourne Victory MF 2001–02 Playing Australia 52
Adam Federici England Stoke City GK 2002 Playing Australia 16
Mark Milligan Scotland Hibernian MF 2002 Playing Australia 63
Robbie Kruse Germany VfL Bochum FW 2005–06 Playing Australia 59
Nikita Rukavytsya Israel Maccabi Haifa FW 2005–06 Playing Australia 15
Dario Vidošić Australia Melbourne City MF 2006 Playing Australia 23
Matthew Spiranovic Australia Perth Glory DF 2006 Playing Australia 35
James Holland Austria LASK Linz MF 2006–07 Playing Australia 15
Nathan Burns New Zealand Wellington Phoenix FW 2006 Playing Australia 24
Trent Sainsbury Netherlands PSV DF 2009–10 Playing Australia 31
Milos Degenek Saudi Arabia Al-Hilal DF 2012 Playing Australia 14


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Remembering the contributions of AIS Men's football to the Socceroos". The Roar. Retrieved 1 May 2017.
  2. ^ Net loss: let games begin, SMH, 1 July 2006
  3. ^ Croatia warned away from 'kindie', Daily Telegraph, 13 January 2006
  4. ^ AIS get VPL spot Archived 11 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine, The World Game, 21 November 2006
  5. ^ "Withdrawal of the AIS" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 January 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-08.
  6. ^ AIS Join The National Youth League Archived 9 July 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Helmers, Caden (26 April 2017). "FFA Centre of Excellence to close under strategy to provide more young players with opportunities". The Canberra Times.
  8. ^ "FFA to close Centre of Excellence in August". The World Game. SBS. 26 April 2017.
  9. ^ "FFA CoE 2016". Football Federation Australia. Retrieved 10 February 2017.

External links[edit]