They may have finished at the bottom of the A-League last season but Central Coast Mariners have a plan to revolutionise their talent development.
Talented juniors from across Australia are flocking to A-League club Central Coast Mariners.
Under Nick Montgomery, TD of the A-League club's academy, a “European” style professional pathway is now a reality.
And Australia’s next generation of A-League stars is flocking.
Rough diamonds from the major cities around Australia are now part of the Gosford A-League club’s junior set up.
The latest example?
Tasmanian talent Tyson Rusden.
SEE TYSON IN ACTION BELOW
The young keeper was selected to represent Tasmania in the Under 10 Futsal National Championships almost two years ago.
Rusden's performance in this tournament gained him selection in the Australian U-11 team that traveled to Italy.
The 13-year-old keeper has been signed by Montgomery's A-League club after more eye-catching displays in Tassie.
And it comes from a scouting link between Montgomery and Alex Cisak.
“I was blown away by how good a keeper he was.
“Within 10 minutes I had a gut feeling.
“He has technique, ability and is fast and agile,” Cisak, head of Limitless Football Academy in Tasmania and a former fringe Socceroo, told FTBL.
Montgomery crossed paths with the ex-Burnley shot-stopper during their respective careers in the UK.
The pair connected recently with the idea of unearthing future talent for the A-League and beyond.
And the result of this scouting link is the signing of Tassie's wonder kid Rusden.
Rusden and his family move from Tasmania to the Central Coast over the coming months.
“In Tasmania, there are some decent talents who don’t get the opportunity,” Montgomery tells FTBL.
“We’ll sign Tyson.
“It’s a big commitment from his parents.
“He’s desperate to be a footballer and his mum and dad understand that.
“And for that to happen he has to move away from Tasmania."
At the A-League club that gave EPL and Socceroo star Maty Ryan his debut, could Rusden be a future Mariners number one in the A-League?
“Kids can now come to the Central Coast, play football all day with good coaching, and also be part of the Mariners’ talent ID.
“For us to make a pathway like this is exciting for the players and the game across Australia," says the former A-League championship winner Montgomery.
Young talents who join the A-League club are being offered the chance to attend Central Coast Sports College.
The partnership means the A-League champions of 2013 can now offer a full-time youth and junior pathway.
The college takes football seriously, spearheaded by the head of football Mike Cooper.
Professional facilities for sport and education mean days are spent training and being schooled.
And the rest of the day training with the A-League academy.
It’s a full-time environment that’s sorely lacking in Australia.
“That’s what happens in Europe,” says Nick Montgomery, TD of the academy at the A-League outfit.
“We’re pushing the club to an elite level and no doubt we’ll see the product of this in years to come.”
Mariners’ academy structure under Montgomery is working superbly well.
Last month, the A-League club’s academy sides won the NSW NPL 2.
And academy players are now pushing their way into the A-League squad.
And the former Sheffield United great is building a scouting network.
The cream of national talent can now look to the Coast as a pathway to professional football.
A-League academies need to be full-time.
Our best kids need full-time preparation and professional pathways if they’re going to make it.
The Socceroos need this.
The A-League needs this.
At A-League club Central Coast, they have grasped the importance of a professional pathway.
“Just look at Europe, South America, Africa, kids would walk to another country for the chance to be in a professional environment,” added Montgomery.
“And if he [Rusden] plays in the A-League or Young Socceroos or moves to Europe, it’ll be the best decision the family will have made.”