NEWS: Wyong Council pledges support for youth development

The Central Coast Mariners can today announce that Wyong Shire Council has signed on as an Official Corporate Partner of the Central Coast Mariners' Foxtel National Youth League outfit for the 2016-17 season.

Mayor Doug Eaton OAM says Council will contribute $10,000 in 2016-17 to support the development of promising young football stars from the Central Coast.

“Young players are the future of football and it is important to ensure more youngsters from the Central Coast have a pathway to the A-League,” Mayor Eaton said.

“The success of these young players helps to raise the profile of the Central Coast nationally and football is a big contributor to our local economy,” he said. 

Central Coast Mariners CEO Shaun Mielekamp said it was great to see Wyong Shire Council supporting young Central Coast players and the future of football.

“The Central Coast Mariners Foxtel National Youth League team competes nationally and is the direct development pathway to the Hyundai A-League,” Mielekamp said. 

“One of our club mantras is giving youth a chance, which makes the Foxtel National Youth League squad crucial to the growth of the Mariners. It is our goal to recruit as many young local talents as possible and thanks to the support of Wyong Shire Council this task has become much easier.

“Since the formation of our Youth Team in 2008 it has never been backed by corporate sponsorship, so we would like to thank Wyong Shire Council for pledging their support behind one of our talent pathways,” Mielekamp said. 

18-year-old Central Coast Mariners’ player Trent Buhagiar credits the Youth League for providing him with the development he needed to gain a professional contract. 

“I started in the Youth League when I was 16, was in for two seasons and then got promoted up to first grade,” Buhagiar said.

“It’s a great experience and gives you the basis for performance improvement by playing against other top players your age and provides access to professional coaching,” he said.

Liverpool Legend Luis Garcia, of Spain, said he went through a similar program growing up at the Academy of Barcelona (La Masia). 

“Young players are the future of the league and football in Australia and this program gives them access to all the facilities. Hopefully in the future we can see some of these young players playing in the A-League,” Garcia said. 

Home games for the Mariners Youth League team in the Foxtel National Youth League competition will be played at the newly opened Mariners Centre of Excellence at Tuggerah.