Australian women's football took another significant step forward on Monday after Football Federation Australia launched the "Future Matildas" program.
In association with the New South Wales Government, New South Wales Institute of Sport (NSWIS), and Football NSW, the program will seek to develop some of the nation's most talented 15 to 20-year-old female footballers.
With access to tailored training environments and specialised coaching from Matildas staff, players will be able to regularly test themselves against other high-level talent - something Matildas head coach Alen Stajcic believes will play a key role in developing the stars of the future.
"There is a significant daily training environment gap for young Australian female players, particularly during autumn and winter,” Stajcic said.
“The Future Matildas program will help to fill this void, boosting talented players’ exposure to elite training and matches.
“The Future Matildas program will be based out of Valentine Sports Park in Sydney, and ensure that our best young players are either training or playing six days a week.
“I am pleased that we have been able to work with the NSW Government, NSWIS and Football NSW to establish this program, which will provide a significant boost to our goal of becoming a top three ranked nation in world football."
With Stajcic named Future Matildas Program Advisor, Matildas assistant coach Gary van Egmond will serve as the program's head coach, which will run for the duration of the W-League off-season and through to the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
The NSW Government, through the NSW Institute of Sport, will pledge $70,000 per year to support this ground-breaking initiative.