School's in for next wave of Mariners talent

CENTRAL Coast Mariners (CCM) have today joined forces with the International Football School (IFS), signing a landmark agreement with the potential to revolutionise the standard of Australian youth players within years.

CENTRAL Coast Mariners (CCM) have today joined forces with the International Football School (IFS), signing a landmark agreement with the potential to revolutionise the standard of Australian youth players within years.

The partnership between CCM and IFS will see the two organisations - with the backing of Central Coast Football (CCF) - combine to provide a raft of youth development programs based on the principles of Ajax Amsterdam-s famed De Toekomst (“The Future”) Academy and FC Barcelona-s revered La Masia system.

The alliance will enable the Mariners and IFS to streamline elite youth players into the Club-s Academy structure, providing an aligned and enhanced pathway from the grassroots level to the Hyundai A-League, Westfield W-League, and beyond.

CCM Head of Youth & Community Football, Patrick Zwaanswijk, honed his football talent at Ajax Amsterdam in his native Netherlands between 1996 and 1998 before signing his first professional contract with FC Utrecht in the Dutch Eredivisie.

Zwaanswijk explained that the opportunity for kids to balance daily football training with their schooling at what will now be known as ‘International Football School Mariners Campus- (IFSMC) has the scope to significantly improve the level of Australian youth footballers.

“This partnership is an exciting development not only for our Club and IFS but for the kids of the Central Coast and Australian football,” Zwaanswijk said. “It begins to put the Central Coast Mariners- pathway on par with the Academy-s of major European and South American clubs.”

“In Europe, a key focus each day is on ball mastery and technique, as well attaining 10,000 hours of high quality training by expert coaches by the time the player turns 18. We are replicating European best practice by combining daily training at the International Football School Mariners Campus with our thorough Academy pathway and high intensity games.”

In a significant boost for the Club, the partnership will place much-loved former Central Coast players Andre Gumprecht and Brad Porter under the Mariners' coaching umbrella. Gumprecht and Porter, as well as legendary ex-Westfield Matildas Julie Dolan and Joey Peters currently coach at IFSMC.

Widely respected foundation Mariners player and current Youth Development Coordinator Damien Brown will also take a hands on role at the School as the Mariners aggressively expand their community and development programs and introduce after-school care football clinics.

“This is the first major development at the Mariners in my time as majority owner and I am proud that it is one that is unique to Australian football and will be a game changer for the sport,” CCM majority owner, Mr Michael Charlesworth said.

“We are implementing a world class model that will be the envy of every other Hyundai A-League club, and we-ve set some ambitious 10-year targets for the project which include developing kids from the Campus to play for the Qantas Socceroos and Westfield Matildas.”

"It says a lot that Fox Sports' Robbie Slater, the first Australian to win an English Premier League title with Blackburn Rovers, took time out of his schedule today to join us today in endorsing the model."

International Football School Mariners Campus Chief Executive Officer, Mr Paul Chapman, launched the School earlier this year. By 2015 the School will cater for kids from years 3 to 12.

“By working together we can now provide a pathway that allows a player as young as five to begin a Mariners Development program, then become an IFS student in a full time program from age eight until they-re 18,” Chapman said. “Training is age specific with highly credentialed coaches, ensuring individual players receive the right attention and information for their level of development.”

CCF Chairman, Mr Darren Sprod, said: “We are delighted to support the partnership between Central Coast Mariners and the International Football School. It is fantastic that as a group we are united in our approach to youth development.”

IFSMC is located in Mount Penang Parklands in Kariong on the Central Coast. Further information can be found at

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