The Foxtel Youth League has recently finished so we caught up with coach Trevor Morgan to chat about the program.What are the objectives of the NYL program?
Trevor Morgan: Our objective is to find young talent and put them into the toughest competition possible over the summer period. We establish a training program parallel to the first team to expose them to a higher level of football with a view to seeing who can step up.
In simple terms we’re in search of someone who can be a top player for the first team by the time they’re 19 or 20.
We’re making important steps in the right direction and sending a message that when the Club’s academy starts we’re very serious about unearthing young talent and promoting them when deserved.
How well did we achieve the objectives?
TM: We’ve been successful in terms of what the Club is trying to do.
Popa has included five of the boys from this season’s NYL squad into the Club’s Champions League squad with both Liam Youlley and Tom Heward-Belle traveling to Japan two weeks ago. Michael Trajkovski and Steve Kuzmanovski have also made their first-team debuts this season at the age of 17.
Apart from the AIS program we’re the youngest team in the league. In season one our average age was 19 and we had Yianni Perkatis earn a first-team contract and debut. Now two years later our average age is 17 and we’ve had five boys on contracts and two make their debut.
Did anything fail to reach your expectations?
TM: Realistically, no. With the different age groups we’re playing against every weekend the boys need time to adjust to that as they’re being tested by that.
At times in matches the boys were phenomenal and they got fantastic results against older team and at other times they failed to win because experience from an older opposition player paid off.
The best way to look at it is in two or three years time when we can compare how many of our boys are playing first team football compared to the players in the teams we played against. While there are no guarantees, our boys certainly have a lot more time up their sleeve.
A perfect example was when we played against Brisbane in Brisbane where their average age was about 19 and they had three overage players who are in their twenties. We had five 16-year-olds on the pitch. We didn’t dominate for the full 90 minutes but we performed very well in that match.
That comes with youth and as they gain more experience their excellence in spurts will turn into dominating matches.
Where to from here?
TM: We need to keep casting our net as wide as we can across Western Sydney to unearth the best talent which are age eligible for us and stick to our philosophy.
It’s going to be a very exciting time for the Wanderers soon as we begin an academy which will give us all age groups right through from U12s in the NPL. There’s going to be tremendous developments there because we will set up an entire coaching and scouting network that will be broader in the younger years.
We will have more people out there looking for talent and we’ll take lessons we’ve learnt from the past three seasons and make small modifications to the program. The bottom line is we’re doing things.
This season every contracted player in the NYL team trained with the first team several times and when the academy happens the same knock-on effect will be there too. Where there is a young talent they will be promoted.