Welcome to the final part of our Diamond League retrospective! This week we review the journey of the competition so far and the NSFA’s vision for the future. Click here to read Part 4!
After commencing in a single G11 competition in 2014, Diamond League steadily increased its footprint within the NSFA by adding the G12 age group in 2015 and G14 in 2016. NSFA also decided to take the initiative on enhancing the development experience by introducing the 9v9 playing format to the G12 age group.
“We had good research from leading football countries that the full-field 11v11 format was inhibiting the players’ ability to continue their technical development, decreasing the player experience and therefore causing players to leave the game,” explains Eilidh Mackay, NSFA’s Head of Female Football.
“Less players on the field means more touches on the ball and the smaller field size creates a focus on the technical skills rather than athleticism.”
“By providing a stronger technical foundation you increase the overall quality of the player base and the physical development comes in as they grow older.”
The use of the 9v9 format matches that used in the representative level by Northern Tigers, but due to varying local association regulations NSFA club teams would play 11v11 in the Football NSW State Cup and Champion of Champions competitions.
While this would be potentially considered a hindrance, it has proved the opposite, with our G12 teams outperforming their previous records with multiple competition winners and increased representation in the latter stages of all tournaments.
This success in development and player numbers (223 to 340 in G12s since 2015) has led to the introduction of the 9v9 format in the NSFA Junior Mixed Under 12s age group in 2021.
“It’s been fantastic to see that Diamond League’s willingness to innovate has provided benefits to the whole NSFA player base, not just females,” says Mackay.
Diamond League has now expanded to four age groups, encompassing the G12, G14, G16 and G18 age groups in 2021. The NSFA’s What’s Best For Her strategy looks to strengthen and grow the female player base, enabling clubs to develop a long-term development plan for their female players.
“The key area of focus for us is providing support to clubs in developing depth across all the Diamond League age groups,” Mackay comments.
“We’re working towards having eight clubs with competitive teams in all Diamond League age groups and Women’s Premier League, plus another team in the lower divisions to provide options for more promotion of players within the club,” says Mackay.
“To support the clubs in this we’ve revamped the licencing for Diamond League to support their development of players and coaches, as well as collaborating in the Female Football Working Group to increase registrations in the pre-Diamond League age groups to provide a larger player base.
“Key to this is an inclusive and empowering culture at our clubs, investing in their female players to build a long-term pathway starting with our G6/G7s and running through Sapphires (G8 to G11) and Diamond League through to Women’s Premier League.”