South Melbourne FC

The Blue and White Forever

YOUTH :: Player progression a focus in 2015

YOUTH :: Player progression a focus in 2015
SMFC Youth Coordinator Matthew Borowicz

The structure of the NPL in 2015 at a Youth level provides a significant increase in the amount of football being played throughout the season. This is seen as a positive by the club and our coaches in delivering greater opportunities for our players to advance their individual techniques and team match play.

A long thirty four round season is now approaching the half way mark and already our players are performing on the pitch both as teams and individuals. Looking purely at the results our six teams from Under 12s to Under 18s have amassed forty six wins, eleven draws and twenty losses whilst scoring two hundred and fifteen goals and conceding eighty five. Whilst these are all but numbers on the page, the focus has been entirely on player development and progression.

The success of our Under 20s under coach Sasa Kolman has seen four of our players recruited into senior NPL/NPL1 clubs during the mid-season transfer window. This has in turn created vacancies in the squad and the club has strongly prioritised using our own Under 16 and Under 18 youth players to fill these spots rather than bringing in external players.

This player progression approach extended through all of the age groups and we now have multiple players advancing to the next age group. Matthew Borowicz is the club’s Youth Coordinator and he spoke to about the success of the program this year saying “I am very happy how our program is going this year. We have experienced and talented coaches guiding our teams and providing each of our players with an individual football pathway. This enables us to closely monitor player progress to ensure we are continually challenging them”.

Borowicz explained one aspect of the pathway saying “we assess the suitability of our boys as they develop and look to provide opportunities at different levels. This could mean exposure to different coaches, specialist sessions or advancement to the next age group. Once the boys reach the Under 15s we are looking to position them to be ready for the Under 20s as early as possible. We map their individual playing style, technique and capability to identify the best development opportunity for them.”

The clubs partnership with Keiser Training is another avenue for player development. At an appropriate age, players may access the experience and professionalism of Keiser Training to help them with their physical fitness and strength conditioning.

Personal Development off the pitch is as important as on the pitch. Leadership training on an individual basis comes through a variety of avenues and the strength of our media team is just one example of this. Providing our youth players with regular media engagement helps prepare them for the future in their football activities but also assists them with self confidence and public speaking. “Standing in front of a microphone and video camera often seems like a great fun thing to do when asked however once the boys are standing there being asked questions, the attitude suddenly changes. ‘What do i say’ is usually the first response but once the boys have been interviewed a few times, it’s amazing to see their confidence grow” says SMFC Marketing Manager George Kouramalis.

Under 20s coach Sasa Kolman reflecting on the progress of his players told “the last twelve months has been very encouraging for us. Some of our Under 20s players have progressed to the National Youth League, NPL and NPL1 seniors. Our squad is constantly changing with our players in demand, especially around the time of the transfer window. We now have a very young Under 20s squad where the average age is under 17 and we have three players training with Chris Taylors and the Seniors squad. Whilst we are sitting two games behind the league leaders with two games in hand, my focus is getting boys into our senior squad.”

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