The Western Sydney Wanderers youth set-up is going a step further, with the club providing a 30 week pre-academy program for boys and girls aged 9-12, including goalkeepers.
The Wanderers Pre-Academy Development Program will start on January 31 and will build on the skills that players already possess, while teaching them new skills and techniques to improve their game based on the club’s highly regarded coaching curriculum.
The program will be run by Wanderers Technical Director, Ian Crook, who has over 20 years coaching experience at the top level.
“Our academy is a vital part of our production line here to lead to the first team,” said Crook, who played over 500 senior games in England, Japan and Australia. “What we felt was there was one area we were missing, and that was getting the best we possibly can into our under 13s.
“Our under 13s are the start of our youth program.
“The 30 week program we are now getting into will enable us to look at good players, that are 9,10,11 and 12 that we can keep eye on that we can move into our academy.
“Scouting is the hardest of our game, trying to see players on a regular basis. Our coaches eyes are important to be able to see the boys and girls over a regular period.
“It’s vital we have something in place where we can see a player and have a part in the development of a player between the ages of 6,7,8 right through to 20.”
The key to the program is that players will be taught the same skills and methods as the Wanderers’ Academy players, giving the kids a chance to one day move into the club’s much envied NPL or W-League scholarship programs.
The current Wanderers’ A-League squad has several players from the club’s NPL academy system, with five of them - Mark Natta, Thomas Aquilina, Tate Russell, Tass Mourdoukoutas and Keanu Baccus - starting in the win against ladder leaders Central Coast last Tuesday night.
The W-League team has a number of players who have come through the Wanderers scholarship program who are now established senior players. The likes of Courtney Nevin, Chloe Middleton, Courtney Newbon, Rosie Galea and Danika Matos have been regulars in the senior team so far in 2020/21.
The Wanderers’ investment in their academy teams (under 13s to 20s and senior NPL) has received widespread plaudits, with the club covering the registration costs of all players in these junior teams meaning they train and play for free.
The kids who join the Wanderers Pre-Academy Development Program will train at the Wanderers’ $30 million Centre of Football at Rooty Hill. The state-of-the-art facility has ten elite training pitches, designated change rooms, medical rooms, a first class gym, proper offices and even a media centre.
The cost of the program is $1,000 for 30 weeks - more details here.