Talented young footballers across New South Wales and around Australia can now be certain that they’re being monitored by a Hyundai A-League club thanks to the Central Coast Mariners’ freshly established Scouting Network.
The Mariners’ Scouting Network, formalised on Friday, is the first of its kind among Hyundai A-League clubs, and has been put in place to ensure that Central Coast continually signs talent not only with the ability to progress to its first team squad, but to represent Australia’s national teams at all levels.
Moreover, the Scouting Network – which features five Scouts with specific regions of responsibility – is an integral part of the club’s holistic plan for success and sustainability on and off the pitch, and, importantly, places a renewed and refreshed focus on youth development at the yellow and navy.
Since foundation, Central Coast Mariners have produced some of Australia’s best young footballers, with Mat Ryan (Club Brugge), Trent Sainsbury (PEC Zwolle), Mustafa Amini (BVB Borussia Dortmund), Bernie Ibini (Sydney FC), as well as Mitchell Duke and Anthony Caceres (Central Coast Mariners) just some of the players to have progressed through the club’s youth set-up.
However with the club not having met its targets in terms of youth development over the past year, a fresh master plan to consistently capture, groom, unleash, and potentially sell star youngsters to lucrative foreign leagues is now being rolled out.
“We are continually looking to evolve and improve the way we identify players and bring them into our system,” Central Coast Mariners Head Coach, Phil Moss, said. “We believe that the establishment of our Scouting Network is a major step forward for the Mariners, as it guarantees that we will have more eyes on more players at more matches across the state and around the country.”
“Young players have always, and will always, be central to the plans of the Central Coast Mariners,” he said. “ We want to be, or even remain, the club that every young footballer in Australia wants to be at thanks to a combination of the system, facilities, professionalism, and opportunities we provide.”
While Moss, his astute assistant Wayne O’Sullivan, as well as the club’s highly respected goalkeeping coach and video analyst John Crawley will be closely involved with the Scouting Network, the structure will be primarily overseen by the Mariners’ recently appointed Head of Youth Football, Stu Jacobs.
Jacobs linked with the Mariners in July this year having previously served as Head Coach of New Zealand’s U23 and U20 national teams, as well as an assistant coach at Wellington Phoenix – among a variety of other roles.
Jacobs said that each Scout will assess players in their region based on a number of factors identified as key by the club’s football and management staff. Scouts will provide monthly updates on identified players, before Jacobs himself sights, reviews, then trials the most promising prospects.
“Our player assessment process covers numerous aspects including tactical awareness, technique under pressure, physical capacity, and last but certainly not least, personality,” Jacobs said. “In keeping with the Mariners’ culture, every player our Scouts consider will ultimately have the very best interests of the team they are playing for at heart.”
“Our Scouts will be at NPL matches, national representative games and tournaments, Australian Institute of Sport training camps and matches, as well as regional and schoolboy representative trials,” he explained.
The first five Scouts employed by the Mariners are Bob Naumov (Northern NSW), Steve Kelly (Metro Sydney – South & Inner West), Craig Midgely (Metro Sydney – North & East), Luke Roodenburg (Metro Sydney – West), and former Mariners player Adam Kwasnik (Central Coast).
“Each of our five Scouts possess an established network in the region in which they will work,” Jacobs said. “They all have experience in youth development and reputable reputations in their area, so we’re confident each Scout will thrive in their role with the Mariners.”
Central Coast Mariners Chief Executive Officer, Mr Bruce Stalder, explained that the Mariners recently ranked equal 133rd with Seria A’s Palermo in a report assessing global player development.
“The 2014 International Centre for Sports Studies (CIES) Football Observatory report takes into account the number of World Cup participants trained per club, as well as the number of league matches played by footballers per team up to the age of 23,” Stalder said. “We were ranked 133rd, just behind clubs such as Juventus (Italy), Napoli (Italy), and FC Nürnberg (Germany), and just ahead of clubs including Fluminense (Brazil), Athletic Bilbao (Spain), and Inter Milan (Italy).”
“Part of our aim with our new Scouting Network is to push into the top 100 in the player development rankings for Russia 2018,” he said.
According to the CIES Football Observatory report, Central Coast Mariners were the top performing Hyundai A-League club in regards to player development at Brazil 2014.
Rival New South Wales-based clubs Newcastle Jets and Sydney FC ranked 485th and 604th respectively, while Brisbane Roar were the second best performing Hyundai A-League outfit at 190th.
The full report can be accessed here.