Sydney FC’s Technical Director - Youth, Kelly Cross, has been selected by FIFA to join a panel of experts led by former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger.
The panel includes former England Head Coach Steve McLaren and April Heinrichs, a World Cup winner as player and coach with the USA.
The group will focus on closing the gap on Europe’s dominance in football by improving coaching and identifying young talent around the world.
Cross will continue in his current role as Technical Director - Youth, and Sydney FC will support his inclusion in the project which will involve a number of international visits across the globe.
“We see this as great for Sydney FC, as well as excellent professional development for Kelly,” said Sydney FC Chief Executive Officer Danny Townsend.
“It helps position our club and our Technical Director – Youth at the centre of international best practice for the game.
“We believe Sydney FC has set the standard in youth development for Australia under Kelly’s leadership since 2014, and his selection is well-deserved.
“We’re convinced Kelly’s participation in this FIFA project is global recognition of the work being done at Sydney FC.”
Under Cross’ leadership, Sydney FC Academy has gone from strength to strength.
The Sky Blues’ Foxtel Y-League side won the national final 5-1 breaking records in the process, four young Sky Blues played almost every minute of Australia’s U17 World Cup campaign in 2019, nine Sydney FC boys were selected in a recent Australian U19 squad amongst other achievements while a number of other young Sky Blues have recently had trials at clubs in the English Premier League and Italy’s Serie A.
Cross was also heavily involved in the development of Joeys' Captain Ryan Teague, who was recently sold to a Portuguese first division club for a six figure fee.
Once the panel concludes its findings, FIFA has said it will offer member federations an expert analysis of their “high-performance ecosystem” in men’s and women’s national teams, domestic leagues, scouting projects and academies.
Program leader Arsene Wenger said: “The difference in the level of play between Europe and the rest of the World has become bigger.
“We need more youth competitions to identify talent, offer them a pathway and develop coaching.”
FIFA announced the project after Wenger led a five-day workshop of technical officials from continental and national soccer bodies in Doha, Qatar.
Federations which work with Wenger’s team of experts will get a report “benchmarking their technical ecosystem against global standards,” FIFA said.
The Zurich-based organization will then “implement tailor-made technical programs” starting in 2021.