NIAS announces change to future operations of Football Club (NIAS FC) after independent review

The Northern Inland Academy of Sport (NIAS) Board announced today that from 2025 there will be a change to the operation of NIAS FC, a football club program operated by NIAS since 2021.

This announcement has been made following the organisation’s Strategic Review in 2022 which recommended an independent review of NIAS FC operations, which then recommended the club’s transition to community ownership from 2025 and beyond.

The decision to accept the recommendation for facilitating this change to future operations marks an exciting new chapter for NIAS FC, ensuring its long-term sustainability and fostering even stronger ties with the community it proudly represents.

“We are very proud of what we have achieved since NIAS FC was incepted as a Club based program under the NIAS umbrella. It must be recognised and emphasised that the Northern Inland Academy of Sport has invested an extraordinary amount of resources in the operation of NIAS FC since 2021, and that it is business as usual for the remainder of 2023 & 2024,” Chris Ash, NIAS Chair said.

“In short, during the next six months, NIAS is looking to establish an independent voluntary community led football Management sub-committee to co-ordinate Club operations and operate with clear Terms of Reference, reporting to the NIAS Board through the CEO. Once established, this will lead discussions and recommendations, continued consultation with NNSWF and local Clubs, progressing to a decision regarding the delivery of daily operations which NIAS will step away from 2025, but continue to work with the new entity.

“It is important for the community to understand that this change is in its infancy. And to appreciate that where opportunities align with NIAS such as the delivery of the TSP program, our organisation will continue to support where possible to the best of its ability, particularly for the higher performing talented players and coaches on the performance pathway. It is the regular participation component of NIAS FC which NIAS is seeking to return to community operation.

“With the proposed transition to community ownership from 2025, NIAS FC envisions a future where the club’s success is shared and celebrated by the entire Northern Inland community. By embracing this new model, the club aims to create a sustainable and vibrant football organisation that fosters the development of young footballers, coaches and officials from the region.”



In 2021, the Northern Inland Academy of Sport stepped in to fill the gap for junior football in the region, taking on the opportunity and challenge to establish a football club to provide access to Northern NSW Football’s Talented Player Pathway within its existing operations, following the dissolution of Northern Inland Football.

This ensured young footballers from the northern inland region continued to have the opportunity to compete in the highest level of youth football competition conducted by the Northern NSW Football Federation.

In that time, the Northern Inland Academy of Sport has invested significantly in the operation of NIAS FC and welcomed over 120 players annually along with numerous volunteer coaches and support personnel, who have benefitted greatly.

NIAS FC is a participation-based Club with a regular competition focus as part of the NNSWF Youth Talented Player Pathway, which operates separately and very differently to the existing charter of a Regional Academy of Sport.

The Northern Inland Academy of Sport is the one of 11 Regional Academies of Sport in NSW, established to facilitate opportunities and performance pathways for talented athletes and coaches aged approximately 14-18 years across many sports, and the only one to currently conduct a football program, let alone a football club. The focus for Regional Academies is on delivery of holistic individual athlete development for identified talented athletes chosen to progress through the sport pathway, and to facilitate access to competition opportunities, where possible.

Due to the increasing exhaustive demand on NIAS resources required to operate NIAS FC, at its’ Strategic Plan Review in 2022, the NIAS Board decided to conduct an independent review of NIAS FC.

Outcome of the Independent Review

The review, conducted by highly credentialed representatives within the football and sporting industry, thoroughly examined NIAS FC’s current structure and considered its future direction, subsequently exploring alternative operational models. The review aimed to:

    1. Outline the costs and benefits of operating NIAS FC in its current format
    2. Propose alternative ways of operating NIAS FC
    3. Recommend a viable future way to operate NIAS FC.

    During this process, a combination of research and interviews were conducted to gather data; interview NIAS team members and football stakeholders; and research how other football academies and similar entities operate.

    After careful analysis and extensive research, it was concluded that transitioning to community ownership would best serve the stakeholders and club’s interests and ensure long-term sustainability.

    “While this transition presents exciting opportunities, we are not oblivious to the challenges it entails with extensive community support required. To overcome this challenge, the Northern Inland Academy of Sport will continue to support NIAS FC during 2023 and 2024, while a specific NIAS FC Management Sub-committee is formed to oversee NIAS FC operations including funding and sponsorship opportunities, with the plan to segway to community ownership from 2025 and where the opportunities align with the charter of the organisation, NIAS will provide support to football,” Mr Chris Ash, NIAS Chair said.

    Governing body for football in the region, Northern NSW Football has also been kept regularly updated and is understanding of the NIAS Board’s decision.

    “NNSWF is exceptionally appreciative of the investment and efforts of the Northern Inland Academy of Sport and acknowledge their wonderful contribution to our game and key stakeholders in their region, particularly the players and coaches. We look forward to continuing to work with the NIAS Board and staff, the new NIAS FC Management Committee, and will support in whatever way we can moving forward to help facilitate opportunities for the growth and development of football in the region,” Peter Haynes, CEO NNSWF said.

    Formation of NIAS FC Management Sub-committee

    The NIAS Board aims to establish a Management Sub-committee to oversee the financial, risk and operational management of NIAS FC by the end of 2023, with the first task to create a detailed business plan, along with making recommendations to the NIAS Board for the handover return process to community operation from 2025.

    This voluntary Management Sub-committee will meet monthly initially and report to the NIAS Board through the NIAS CEO, and additionally will be charged with determining recommendations for its future direction.

    Initially, the committee will comprise of a NIAS Board member, NIAS staff member (non-voting), coach or manager from NIAS FC support personnel, a parent of one of the players, and two independent community members, but total no more than 7 members.

    NIAS is issuing a call-out for passionate, skilled individuals within the Northern Inland community who would like to be part of this voluntary Management Sub-committee responsible for running the operations of NIAS FC.

    “We are seeking dedicated volunteers who are enthusiastic about football and possess specific skills in areas such as administration, governance, sport, finance, sponsorship and community engagement,” Shona Eichorn, NIAS CEO.

    Should you be interested or know of others who may be interested in contributing time and expertise to the success of NIAS FC and football in the region more broadly, we encourage you to contact us at [email protected].

    Community Consultation

    Moving forward, the Northern Inland Academy of Sport will embark on a comprehensive community consultation process, to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to have their say and actively participate in shaping the future of the Club and program.

    This process will offer an opportunity for everyone to provide feedback, ask questions, offer suggestions, and contribute to the decisions that will shape NIAS FC going forward.

    To have your say and nominate to be involved, please click here: NIAS FC | Have your say ( 

    An In-person community consultation session will also be conducted following the NIAS FC games, in Tamworth on Sunday 6 August, from 3pm at the Gipps St Clubhouse. This community consultation session will be conducted by NIAS and supported by NNSWF.

    You can follow our Facebook, or Instagram as we provide updates on the process and outcomes.