Winners! Sydney recap 2017


But that’s not all. What a week it was down in Old Sydney Town!

The lowdown

Earlier in the year, 11 CFA U12 players were selected to participate in a week-long Sydney football tour which included a tournament – for much needed tough games (and to get the old competitive juices flowing!) – and friendly matches against three of the biggest NSW NPL clubs in an epic 7-day Sydney football trip.

First stop

Was the 2-day Futboltec Invitational, held at Lily’s Sports Centre, home of NPL club Blacktown City. The tournament was held on the main field on state-of-the-art artificial turf and featured 16 of the best U12 teams in the country.

After a nail biting semi-final and grand final (both going into extra time!) our CFA U12’s dug deep and took home the trophy, a major feat for these regional players who have minimal access and exposure to regular quality competition in their hometown. The intensity is higher; the games are more physical and while it took our players a few games to get accustomed to the environment, they played their game, produced some lovely football and took home the silverware. What a moment in time!

Kudos to Futboltec for the professionally run tournament and to all competing teams. A total of 9 games were played just in group stages, with a further 3 in the finals making for lots of quality of minutes of football.

NPL tour

With Sydney arguably the breeding ground of Australia’s best footballers, it was immediately evident in our first full game against NPL giant and former NSL powerhouse Sydney Olympic that our players were set for another real challenge; they were strong, they were fast and they were
technical. A highly competitive and exciting game with lots of goals scored by both sides, it was particularly significant because it was played at Belmore, a place where Head Coach Zenon made many memories as a junior footballer.

The following day we head to the west, to the home of Zen’s old mate, former Socceroo Nicky Carle’s talented Southern Districts side.

On this day our boys played 11 v 11 on a big field for an epic 90 minutes and what a show it was! A highly technical team, we saw some awesome skills on display – but that’s hardly surprising when you’re being coached by one of the country’s master technicians!

Our final NPL game was held in “The Shire”- the place this writer calls home. Playing on the main pitch – top of the range turf – under lights against a true quality passing team was an amazing experience for our players and one they will truly remember.

Particularly since they had an A-League star come to watch and talk to them, Sydney FC midfield maestro Josh Brillante!

Huge thanks to the coaches and TD’s that made these games happen, we felt truly welcome and we look forward to meeting with you again!

Football Royalty

If winning tournament and playing NPL games wasn’t enough of a treat, our players got the chance to have a chat with Central Coast Mariners Head Coach (and former Socceroos Captain) Paul Okon. He gave our players some sage advice on what it takes to be professional footballers and with a son in the same age group playing for Marconi and Futboltec, we’re sure to run into him again.

Dinner was held at one of Australian football’s true football institutions, Club Marconi, with new Wanderers signing and fellow Cairns product Michael Thwaite joining us for dinner. It’s always a buzz for our youngsters to be able to meet players and then see them on telly – like last night against Arsenal! Well done Thwaitey!

Western Sydney Wanderers Meet and Greet

Our last day of the trip was a surprise and as the mini buses drove to an unknown location with our young players completely oblivious to what was about to happen, they rocked up at Blacktown International Sports Park, training ground of the Western Sydney Wanderers.

And as they watched the Red and Black stars of the west train (“nice pass!”, “wow, did you see that!”) we waited for them to finish so they could get jerseys and balls bought by their parents signed! Just seeing their faces light up as they scurried from player to player was truly amazing – but after meeting Josh Brillante the night before, they all of a sudden became torn about who their fave Sydney team was! #FirstWorldStruggles

What a way to finish off the football trip of a lifetime!


A big congratulations to our selected players for Sydney:

Thomas Waddingham, Nate Prien, Ryan O’Keeffe, Kohen Allen, Callum Wenck, Luke Rantucci, Luca Mauro, Joe McDonnell, Louis Heising, Cameron La, Oliver Berry and Jon Gambino.

Next up: En Route JAPAN for the Yanmar Cup for the U12’s in October and Sydney for the U10’s and U11’s in December!

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