Junior Framework

The Junior Framework provides a consistent, coordinated national approach to the development of junior players. Whether children enjoy football because it’s a fun way to make friends or they’re inspired to follow in the footsteps of their heroes and play on the world stage, the Junior Framework has been developed to kick-start their dreams.

The Junior Framework provides a consistent, coordinated national approach to the development of junior players. Its main aim is to provide all junior players with high quality football experiences that increase both skill levels and the passion for playing football.

Through the Junior Framework players will experience age appropriate football games and coaching in a programme that is specifically tailored to meet their football wants and needs.


  • McDonald’s First Kicks (4-6 years old)
  • McDonald’s Fun Football (7-8 years old)
  • McDonald’s Mini Football (9-12 years old)

Underpinning the Junior Framework are the following principles, which provide clear structure for programmes to be developed under.

  1. Accumulation of hours and number of touches
  2. Early engagement
  3. Recognising development age of the player
  4. Training emphasis periods
  5. Four corners approach (incorporating the Physical / Mental / Social-Emotional / Technical-Tactical abilities of players)
  6. Age appropriate games

Street football across the world has been instrumental in the development of world-class players, and small sided games are the cornerstone of developing technically proficient and creative football players in a New Zealand context.

The benefits of small sided games extend far beyond technical and tactical development. They ensure children develop an innate love for the game and remain in our sport for longer.

Youth Framework

The Youth Framework provides a clear, coordinated national approach to the development of youth players aged 13-19 years. Its main aim is to provide all youth players, regardless of their ability, with high quality experiences in order to retain them in or attract them to the game.

The Youth Framework provides clear pathways for players ensuring that young footballers can access opportunities to play at an appropriate level.

During the youth years, growth and maturation, as well as interest and commitment to the sport, do not develop at the same rate for all players. It is important that football activity shapes both the player and the person in a challenging, safe and enjoyable environment.

The Youth Framework will also provide clear training and match day guidelines that are linked to the New Zealand Football Playing Philosophy. This will enable an aligned approach to helping players increase their technical proficiency, tactical understanding and love for the game.


  1. Quality & Quantity
  2. Football For All
  3. Recognising Development Age
  4. Physical Wellbeing
  5. Holistic Player Development - The Four Corners Approach
  6. The Match Is For The Player
  7. Planning


Early engagement for players as young as 4 years old into the game helps allow the children to opportunity to discover the game, provide for learning basic fundamental movement skills and create positive football experiences.


  • No competitive game.
  • Children play together informally to meet the personal/emotional needs of the youngsters.
  • Lots of chances to score goals and enjoy mini challenges.
  • Encourage participation in a variety of additional activities to develop physical literacy (e.g. running, jumping, throwing, etc).
  • Parents and game leaders bring out the fun of football through guiding and supporting their children to understand the basic rules of first kicks football.


At this age, football should be primarily played in a playful environment that emphasises self-discovery. This continuity into early engagement develops crucial factors for the future of the players such as the love for the game, game intelligence and physical literacy.

Built on a common fundamental skills base, all players can be empowered to progress back and forth between the different pathways at a later stage. Players are more aware of the rules of the game and start to recognise the opportunities to play with and for each other. They are able to develop basic football techniques and during training can be exposed to games that have specific technical outcomes such as developing shooting techniques under pressure by an opponent.

It is the role of parents and game leaders to support their understanding through enabling all players the opportunity to play without restrictions and too much instruction.


  • Emphasise playing games with minimal interference from game leaders and parents.
  • Favour as many opportunities as possible to play football – ‘let the game be the teacher’.
  • Offer activities where excitement and enjoyment are the main objectives and extrinsic factors such as winning are not emphasised.
  • The recommended number of hours in a formal environment is 2-3 per week across a 20-25 week season.
  • Football activities outside the formal environment (Fun Football Centres and Holiday programmes) along with others sporting activities should be encouraged to reinforce physical literacy and initial game understanding.
  • Let the player’s play with minimum restrictions and little instruction – ‘keep it simple’.
  • Keep the adult pressures of winning out of fun football.


These ages are the skill hungry years. Motivationally, children are geared to learn skill at this time, providing ideal opportunity for building football specific skills into fundamental movement ability.

These golden years of player development require coaches to work on cementing individual technical excellence so that well rounded and technically proficient players are ready to make the step to youth football and the 11v11 game. Pitch sizes and player numbers increase with the progression in the small sided games concept from 7v7 to 9v9 Mini Football.

Players are cognitively more capable of understanding how to play more effectively with their teammates to either score or prevent goals. At this stage basic positions within simple team structures are introduced to develop a basic tactical understanding of the game.

Pre-selection or initial talent identification of gifted and committed players is conducted as players are teamed up with others of similar ability.


  • Focus during this period should still be around deliberate play with key opportunities to refine technical skills and develop further game intelligence with increased number of teammates (5v5, 7v7 to 9v9).
  • Develop confidence as a vital ingredient for future participation and performance by fostering and reinforcing the achievement of basic goals for each player.
  • The recommended number of hours in a formal environment is 3-4 per week across a 20-25 week season. For the most talented and willing players it is recommended that 4-6 hours per week are accumulated across a 40 week season.
  • Football activities outside the formal environment and other sporting activities are encouraged to reinforce physical literacy and game intelligence.
  • Leagues are introduced at this stage, however emphasis is on learning opportunities and fun.
  • Speed and agility are the key physical qualities to develop in every training session.