National Youth League set for take-off

A bigger and better National Youth League kicks off this weekend with two new teams and the best young talent in Australia on display in a nine-team competition.

A bigger and better National Youth League kicks off this weekend with two new teams and the best young talent in Australia on display in a nine-team competition.

The stars of tomorrow will get their chance to impress the crowds of today with all four Round 1 matches featuring as curtain-raisers to Hyundai A-League games. Gold Coast and the Australian Institute of Sport make their maiden appearances with away clashes against Perth Glory and Sydney FC respectively.

Adelaide and Central Coast have the honour of kicking the season off at 4:45pm (CST) on Friday at Hindmarsh Stadium, while Newcastle hosts Brisbane on Saturday (2.45pm AEST). The Sydney v AIS match kicks off at the SFS at 4.45pm (AEST) Saturday while Perth hosts Gold Coast at ME Bank Stadium at 12.15pm (AWST) on Sunday.

Gold Coast youth coach Mike Mulvey has assembled a quality bunch of 16 under-21 players and he hopes to make the same impact that United’s senior team has made in its first five matches of the Hyundai A-League.

“We only finalised the squad recently and for the last eight weeks we’ve been training with the squad we had in place and adding players as they were signed,” Mulvey said.

“We had an eye on certain players within Queensland who we were interested in and we took literally hundreds of emails, letters and phone calls from players all over the country who wanted to come and trial with us.”

“There were people scouting and watching players constantly, as well as taking recommendations from our network of contacts throughout the coaching fraternity. We were specific on the type of players we were looking for and from there we just kept narrowing it down until we had the numbers we needed.”

Adelaide was beaten in the Grand Final by Sydney FC last year and coach Joe Mullen is determined to go one better this year after selecting a squad with players at different levels of development.

“I think the potential to be successful is certainly there, and the signs from our training sessions over the last four weeks have certainly substantiated my thoughts in that regard, but of course how they react under pressure and playing games remains to be seen, but I’m very confident that the group we have chosen is good and I look forward to working with them,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mariners head coach Tony Walmsley is confident his new-look squad is ready to go after a strong pre-season preparation.

“We’re confident the boys are prepared, after the obstacles we’ve had, with State League and things like that,” Walmsley said. “We’re prepared as well as we can be going into the game and everyone is fit which is the main thing for us, all we have to wait for now is which of the first team players will be complementing the squad travelling away.”

Central Coast will feature just two players from its inaugural youth campaign, Nathan Sherlock and Brady Smith.

Brisbane Roar coach Rado Vidosic said the National Youth League is a great chance for the best under-age players to come up against more experienced Hyundai A-League-listed players, with four over-age players able to play in the NYL.

“The No.1 goal is to keep developing young players not just to National Youth League level but to A-League level and beyond,” he said.

“I remember last season when we played against Adelaide, Daniel Bowles and Michael Ryan had to mark Paul Agostino and play against Ange Costanzo and players like that. It’s a great experience for these 16 and 17-year-olds. They can build their confidence by playing against these boys and not losing too many battles against them.”