WHEN the FFA National Youth Championships for Boys kicks off in Coffs Harbour on Monday, among the more than 600 best young male footballers in the 13 Years and 14 Years divisions that will be playing will be seven North Coast Football players.
In the 13 Years division Charlie Shipperlee (Woolgoolga) and Ptolemy Horan (Boambee) will be playing for Northern NSW while the quartet of Baden Rees (Coffs Coast Tigers), Charlie Kelly (Maclean), Jacob Field (Coffs Coast Tigers) and Marcus Field (Coffs Coast Tigers) will be hitting the pitch for the Northern NSW 14s side.
Also in the 14s age group but playing in the Newcastle Jets squad will be James Shanahan (Coffs Coast Tigers) who will be doing his work as a goalkeeper.”
North Coast Football’s technical director Gary Phillips said the boys deserve selection based purely on talent but what pleases him the most is he thinks they’re great young men as well.
“Overall they’re fantastic. They always come up and shake your hand, g’day, good night, hello how are you, thank you. All of the niceties involved in being a quality young human being,” Phillips said.
“Out of all of them there’s not a bad kid among them which is great because we’re out there, we’re on display all of the time in Newcastle or wherever and we never leave a mess, they never swear or carry on.”
Next week’s tournament being played at the C.ex Coffs International Stadium will involve 36 teams from around Australia.
Phillips said playing in such a tournament offers enormous opportunities.
“They’re maybe a chance of being picked up by the Jets, you never know who’s there watching, potentially maybe another A-League club. You never know who’s watching so this is a massive opportunity for them to impress,” he said.
“They (scouts) were here for the girls and they’ll be here for the boys for sure.”
For some of the seven, their selection comes on the back of a large amount of travel in 2018 that no doubt has stretched family budgets.
“The likes of Charlie, Baden and Jimmy also went to Japan throughout the year so their load this year has been extreme given the travel, especially Charlie who’s travelled from Townsend every week,” Phillips explained.
“The cost is big. I think it was $5000 to go to Japan plus they’ve been to camps in Newcastle so the cost has been enormous.
“So they’ve had a big year and a lot of exposure but it’s all proven worthwhile now.”
Phillips added that the NPL format this year has also offered a chance for the boys to play above their actual age group. A move that no doubt has benefitted them.
“About half of the boys have played in the 15s at times this year as we try to give them exposure up at the next age group to make it a bit more challenging for them physically,” he said.
“That’s been a number of games, not just a one-off and backing up so playing the two games on the one day.
“So given the workload, given the challenges they’ve faced, the distances some of them have travelled it’s a great achievement.”
While pleased with having seven members of North Coast Football’s NPL program chosen to play next week, Phillips believes the number could so easily have been greater.
“I personally think they (the selectors) have missed a couple,” he said.
“Christian Mirindi and Zavier Hardes were identified before I came here and those two were unlcky not to be picked as well.
“Obviously back-to-back NPL finals for the 14 Years team tells you that the majority of those players are the next best after the Jets but they’ve come a long way those two kids.”