Source: Chris Brunskill The FA via Getty Images

The FA unveils plans for development of elite girls’ football

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The Football Association has unveiled its plans for the development of elite girls’ football programmes and pathways in England.

From next season, a new U15 National Performance Camp (NPC) will be introduced, replacing the existing regional Elite Performance Camps. The NPC will engage the most talented players across England in a development programme which will provide expert support in all areas of the game.

Further improvements will take place from the 2016 – 17 season, when the current Centres of Excellence system will be replaced by the Regional Talent Programme (RTP).

The programme aims to provide greater support to clubs that are working with talented youth players. The RTP will have three tiers of status and will require clubs to apply for licences as appropriate to their performance and delivery.

An additional tier, Tier One Plus, will be awarded to clubs consistently delivering exceptionally over a two-year period.

As a result of the changes, the FA will not open up the Centres of Excellence licences for the 2015-16 season beyond the existing centres. Current Centres of Excellences will be invited to enter into an application process for a one-year licence.

Elsewhere, the successful South West Talent Pathway Pilot is being rolled out into the East region. The pilot is a player-focused approach to elite female youth football which addresses the challenges that players in these regions have faced. Players in the East region will have access to advanced coaching centres and a residential regional Centre of Excellence but will be able to play football locally, including mixed football, which will allow them more development and game time and require less travel.

The changes have been spearheaded by the FA’s Elite Performance Unit, which was set up in 2014 to manage the development of elite female footballers and coaches. The unit, which is led by Brent Hills, has engaged players, coaches, County FAs and key stakeholders in an assessment of talent pathways and the changes are in response to this feedback.

Brent Hills said: “These changes will really enhance the way we identify and develop elite female footballers in this country to be the best players they can be. The Centre of Excellence programme has shown that clubs require the opportunity to grow and develop at different rates according to their facilities, infrastructure and grassroots system below them. The new programme will engage many more clubs and hopefully more players. We would like to thank the clubs, players, coaches and other partners for their feedback and support in this process and we look forward to seeing the results of these changes in the years to come, with successful England teams.”