MOVES are afoot to ensure Griffith's next generation of footballers and coaches is the best the city has ever produced.
The decentralisation of Football NSW's Skills Acquisition Program (SAP) away from Football Riverina, and to the local associations, is at the core of a reform that will bring Griffith closer in line with the big cities in terms of development.
For the first time, this year the GDFA will have its own version of the SAP, a development program designed to perfect and accelerate the skill development of identified players at the critical ages of between nine and 12.
Griffith will have SAP squads in the under 9, under 10 and under 11 age groups. The under 11 squad has already been announced but trials will get underway for the first two age divisions tonight from 6pm at Ted Scobie Oval.
"The idea of the SAP is that we have the best kids training with each other, and they're constantly challenged," said Football Riverina development manager Blaise Fagan.
"It's mostly fundamentals but we want them to become very good technical players on the ball at the end of it."
The SAP comes on the back of a three-day senior coaching course held earlier this month, which saw 20 aspiring managers earn their licenses under the watchful eye of Fagan, who believes the flow-on effect for Griffith will be huge.
"You can't develop good footballers with coaches that don't have the right understanding or qualifications to give their message over," he said.
"You only get better footballers with better coaches. To have 20 people qualified in a town the size of Griffith is brilliant.
"It's good that these guys now have an understanding of the principles of coaching - they'll be able to help their clubs in whatever aspects they get involved in."
However, the job is far from over - in fact, for Fagan, it won't be complete until the kick-and-rush style of game that is popular in regional areas is eradicated.
"There's still this game they play in the country that's all about speed, strength and direct football - get the ball up the park, don't worry about possession, hope there's a mistake in the box and we might score a goal," he said.
"We're trying to get rid of that, and change the style of football in the country so players become comfortable on the ball from the back, right through the field.
"That's why the SAP is really important as well. Nature will take care of the height, strength and speed. We can't affect that - why work on it? Teach football and let their bodies develop as they grow."