National Academi

FAW National Academi

Unearthing talent and connecting football

The Football Association for Wales’s vision is for Wales to become a leading football nation at a global and local level.  We want football to be the most successful sport in Wales, consistently competing with the very best in the world. 

The National Academi will unearth and nurture the best talent from grassroots football. This will be a high quality, professional youth development infrastructure that will harness potential and provide opportunities for talent to progress.  

Our National Academi will enable us to support the development of a thriving football eco system which will provide opportunities for talent to progress through our elite player development pathways.  

This will mean that Cymru produces world class players for our National Teams at a global level while also improving the quality of player in our domestic leagues.  

We want to ensure that the most talented players, wherever they are in Wales, can access the support they need to develop their talent. 

National Academi 2024/25

Category A:

  • Cardiff Met
  • Connahs Quay Nomads
  • Newtown AFC
  • Penybont FC
  • TNS 

Category B:

  • Airbus UK
  • Barry Town United
  • Briton Ferry Llansawel AFC
  • Caernarfon Town
  • Cambrian United
  • Flint Town United 
  • Llanelli Town
  • Pontardawe Town 
  • Pontypridd United 

Category C:

  • Bala Town 
  • Carmarthen Town 
  • Haverfordwest County
  • Merthyr Town

National Academi FAQs

What is the objective of the new National Academi?

The National Academi’s primary objective is to ensure that high quality environments exist across Wales to provide opportunities for talent to progress through our elite player development pathways to ensure Cymru can consistently produce world-class players for our National Team success. 

Our National Academi will also act as a catalyst within the community, connecting grassroots clubs, leagues and area associations to widen access, enhance provision and provide greater opportunity to give every talent a chance.

The programme will be underpinned by the following principles:

  • Develop a strong reputation for high quality provision
  • Support the development of thriving domestic Clubs and football ecosystem
  • Driving participation locally through better user experience and access
  • Provide more professional opportunities and remove barriers to progression

Why are you making these changes?

We’ve inherited a system that when judged against the vision statement was broken. 100% of our National Team players (all ages) are registered in the English Academy structure prior to their U12 season, the public sentiment was that academies were ‘no different to grassroots’ and ‘money-making schemes’, and the FAW were mandated to fund only our Cymru Premier clubs – leading to a funding model that was both disconnected to the quality of provision and unsustainable based on prospect of Cymru Premier relegation.

How will academies be categorised?

CATEGORY C – 6 Clubs

Delivering development & support services, permitting access for more players to experience quality assured standards of delivery above grassroots Football.

FAW determine composition of each Academy – in line with Club licensing Tier 1 requirements & capability to deliver.

CATEGORY B – 10 clubs

Delivering a quality environment and full player development pathway.  Providing high standard of player experience, permitting Clubs to deliver a wider focus.

FAW license full Academy composition.

CATEGORY A – 4 Clubs

Delivering outstanding quality provision, which raises domestic standards and increases professional opportunities, as a core strategy at the heart of the Club’s model.

FAW license full Academy composition.

How far should a child be expected to travel to get to an academy?

By the end of the two year development period, we hope that we will have reached a point where a player can access an academy within 35-40 minutes of their home.

We recognise that younger age groups need an environment that is as close to them as possible.

From around 12 years of age, where players tend to become more motivated by the prospect of progression, they may need to travel further in order to get the best possible development opportunities. It’s not just the physical environment but also the other players that they will be training with that will enable them to fully realise their potential.  

What is the pathway into and beyond academies for the most talented players?

Our aspiration is that academies will act as demonstration of talent locally, providing an avenue for the most talented players to showcase themselves on the regional and national stage, local grassroots league, it’s a new thing and will take time to fully come into fruition.

In areas where there are professional clubs nearby, the most talented players should be supported into those environments with a view to them coming through to the Cymru national teams.

In the areas where that isn’t possible, the FAW will run regional programmes, representative squads – 11-15 year olds – keeping the best players together and supporting and exposing them, keeping professional clubs on the radar.  

The National Academi will accelerate their journey.  

How will you ensure that there is a good geographic spread of academies?

We have taken the decision that the club-based environment is the preferred environment for academies.

Our first priority is to act with integrity when we give our seal of approval, we will only license clubs who will deliver, and we will rigorously monitor the quality of delivery to ensure that it is upheld.  

Moving forward, we have a commitment to establish regional programmes in the areas that are not covered by academies, where it is not possible to access club based academies within a reasonable travel distance. 

How will academies select their players?

The FAW asks clubs to provide talent ID and recruitment plans as part of their licensing process.

We expect academies to scout in their local leagues.  

We also have a team of national scouts whose job it is to make sure that the best academy players are on the FAW’s radar and that the best players in the grassroots system are in the academies.

We have a scholarship programme to ensure that people from low income backgrounds aren’t excluded from the programme.

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National Academi Regulations

Unearthing Talent & Connecting Football

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