Strength of SA football highlighted by strong A-League representation

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South Australia has always boasted a strong reputation for producing some of the best footballers in the country.

Many have forged successful careers and some have even become synonymous with the Socceroos. 

From the likes of John Kosmina to Alex Tobin, to the Vidmar and Aloisi brothers as well as Angelo Costanzo and Carl Veart, to incumbent Adelaide United stars such as Jordan Elsey, Stefan Mauk, and most recently Mohamed Toure, the list goes on.

And that trend of Adelaide and South Australia continually punching above its weight rings more than true, particularly when you consider the state’s population relative to those in the eastern states.

Last season, Football South Australia (FSA) had the second-highest A-League representation out of the nine member federations in Australia.

The PFA A-League 2019/20 Report revealed there were a total of 44 players in the A-League from South Australia, with 42 of those hailing from metropolitan Adelaide and two regionally.

Only Football NSW had more with 90 and that is testament to the strength of Football South Australia’s pathway programs and opportunities to the elite level with the Reds in South Australia.

To provide some context, according to the FFA 2019 National Participation Report there were 28,597 registered male participants playing football in South Australia, while Football NSW recorded 178,392 participants.

Meanwhile, Football Victoria, had 38 players in the competition last campaign from its 60,292 participants.

“This is remarkable when you consider that South Australia has half as many male participants as Victoria, while Melbourne has three A-League teams as opposed to Adelaide’s one,” The PFA A-League 2019/20 Report said. 

Member Federation

Registered Male Participants

Professional Players

Registered Players per Professional

Football South Australia

28,597

44

1 in 650

Football NSW

178,392

90

1 in 1,982

Football Victoria

60,292

38

1 in 1,586

Football Queensland

58,719

24

1 in 2,447

Northern NSW

41,041

14

1 in 2,932

Football West

32,558

17

1 in 1,915

Football Tasmania

8,709

2

1 in 4,355

Capital Football

13,095

2

1 in 6,548

Football Northern Territory

2,682

1

1 in 2,682


Indeed, United’s emphasis in giving local, young South Australians the chance to play professional football for the Reds has also certainly contributed to the impressive numbers in recent years.

Of the 21 players currently contracted with the senior team, a remarkable 18 grew up in the City of Churches.

Adelaide United Head Coach, Carl Veart, believes the high representation from South Australia is indicative of the sound football pathway.

“South Australia has always had a proud tradition of producing elite footballers,” Veart said.

"In recent times, this is thanks to the strong pathways in place through local NPL and State League clubs as well as the FSA National Training Centre program.

“Adelaide United has a rich football culture and as a Club our view is that our loyalty lies within South Australia.

“Obviously we’ll add quality from interstate or overseas when necessary, but we feel young South Australian footballers that are good enough should be getting opportunities with our Club first and foremost.”

Football South Australia Chief Executive Officer, Michael Carter, praised South Australia’s development system as one of the best in the country.

“The results are testament to the entire technical team at Football South Australia,” Carter said.

“From full-time staff to the support team and having a consistent approach, to the development of young players, combined with an A-League club willing to select locally grown players has been critical to the success of the program.

“We look forward to its continued success.”

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