FFA Centre of Excellence

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]

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 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 coachesEdit

National representationEdit

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 CupEdit

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

2006 GermanyEdit

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 AfricaEdit

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 BrazilEdit

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 participationEdit

National Soccer LeagueEdit

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 LeagueEdit

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 LeagueEdit

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]

Notable alumniEdit

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   67
Warren Spink   Cooks Hill United FW 1983–84 Coaching   38
Robbie Hooker DF 1984–85 Retired   22
Jason Polak MF 1985–87 Retired   32
Paul Trimboli   Melbourne Victory FW 1986 Administration   46
Jason van Blerk   Central Coast Mariners Academy MF 1986 Coaching   33
Craig Foster MF 1986–87 Media   29
Steve Horvat DF 1987–88 Retired   32
Shaun Murphy DF 1988 Retired   18
Ned Zelić DF 1988 Media   34
George Sorras FW 1989–90 Retired   27
Alistair Edwards   Johor Darul Ta'zim FW 1988 Coaching   19
Steve Corica   Sydney FC MF 1989–90 Coaching   32
Kevin Muscat DF 1990–91 Coaching   46
Craig Moore   Coomera Colts DF 1992–93 Coaching   52
Hayden Foxe   Perth Glory DF 1993–94 Coaching   11
Josip Skoko MF 1992–93 Retired   51
John Aloisi FW 1992–93 Coaching   55
Mark Viduka FW 1992–93 Retired   43
Lucas Neill DF 1994–95 Retired   96
Josip Šimunić   Croatia U-19 DF 1995–96 Coaching   105
Brett Emerton MF 1996 Retired   95
Vince Grella MF 1996 Agent   46
Simon Colosimo DF 1996–97 Retired   26
Anthony Šerić MF 1996–97 Retired   16
Mile Sterjovski MF 1996–98 Retired   43
Mark Bresciano MF 1997 Retired   84
Ivan Ergić MF 1997–98 Retired   11
Luke Wilkshire   Wollongong Wolves MF 1997–98 Coaching   80
Joshua Kennedy FW 1998–99 Media   36
Jade North DF 1999 Playing   41
Alex Brosque FW 2001 Retired   21
Matt McKay MF 2001 Retired   59
Carl Valeri   Dandenong City MF 2001–02 Playing   52
Adam Federici   Macarthur GK 2002 Playing   16
Mark Milligan   Macarthur MF 2002 Playing   80
Robbie Kruse   Melbourne Victory FW 2005–06 Playing   75
Nikita Rukavytsya   Maccabi Haifa FW 2005–06 Playing   18
Dario Vidošić   Moreland Zebras MF 2006 Playing   23
Matthew Spiranovic Free agent DF 2006 Playing   36
James Holland   LASK Linz MF 2006–07 Playing   15
Nathan Burns Free agent FW 2006 Playing   24
Rhyan Grant   Sydney FC DF 2008 Playing   12
Trent Sainsbury   K.V. Kortrijk DF 2009–10 Playing   48
Adam Taggart   Cerezo Osaka FW 2009–10 Playing   11
Milos Degenek   Red Star Belgrade DF 2012 Playing   28


  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 8 March 2009.
  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.

External linksEdit