Mariners Academy squads heading to China

A visit to Beijing’s iconic Birds Nest Stadium, the home of the 2008 Olympic Games, will be a highlight of the Central Coast Mariners Junior and Youth Academy visit to China over the next ten days.

A visit to Beijing-s iconic Birds Nest Stadium, the home of the 2008 Olympic Games, will be a highlight of the Central Coast Mariners Junior and Youth Academy visit to China over the next ten days.

Youngsters coming through the Mariners Football pathway program are taking the next step in the journey toward becoming professional Footballers.

Led by former Mariner and Youth Development Co-ordinator Damien Brown, the three squads, featuring players from the club-s Under 12-s, Under 14-s and Under 16-s Junior and Youth Academy programs, will play four matches and train at state of the art facilities in Beijing.

"Every year we offer an opportunity to go away with the academy, last year was New Caledonia and this year is China. The tour director has lined up four games and we-ll be training every second day. We-ll meet up with the parents, there are just as many parents as there are kids, and they are staying about half an hour away in a five star hotel, while we-re only in a four star hotel!" laughed Brown.

For some of these players, particularly those in the Under 16-s squad, the next step following the conclusion of the Youth Academy course would be the National Youth League, and Brown believes it-s important for these youngsters to learn about the whole package that goes along with life as a professional Footballer.

"As we all know the National Youth League side is travelling every second week so this can help them prepare if they end up taking the next step," said Brown.

"It-s not just about the football, it gives the kids a chance to experience other cultures, and making sure we-re educating them as well which is all part of the academy.

"It-ll be good to teach them a few life lessons as well, and that-s what we-ve told their coaches, to make sure they are good boys. It will be an all round Football and Cultural experience.

"We-re playing three out of four of the games on Astroturf which is something the boys haven-t played on before. They are probably used to turning up with their boots and shinpads and playing so we-ve just had to think more about what-s involved.

"Surfaces, food requirements, plus we have a physio travelling who has been very thorough in matchday preparations so it-s all part of being a professional, but we-ll show them a bit of fun as well with the shopping and sightseeing.

"They-ve been in the program since April and will go through until December. They have been training with their clubs but they will go from one session (in the academy) to two, sometimes three if their in the Youth Academy per week, so this trip comes just before it increases in their off season. We-ll get to learn not only about their footballing but about their personalities while they-re away as well," Brown said.

During the trip, the players will also get an understanding about the Media and Promotional aspect of life as an athlete, as they will be required to submit daily blogs, which will be featured on www.ccmariners.com.au throughout the trip.