This Sunday at the No. 2 Sportsground in Newcastle, the Central Coast Mariners Youth side take on the Newcastle Jets in the opening round of the Foxtel National Youth League competition.
We caught up with Head Coach, Wayne O’Sullivan who gave an insight on the club’s focus and preparation.
With a large portion of the squad completing their studies, it’s been a disrupted pre-season but ‘Sully’ is happy with how the team has progressed so far.
Working closely with Hyundai A-League Head Coach Paul Okon and Assistant Coach Ivan Jolic, the focus this season is on players much younger to ensure the club can work with them over an extended period of more than just one season.
“About 50% of our players were on HSC duties for the first two and a half weeks of training but the last two and a half weeks we’ve had everyone together which has been good,” O’Sullivan said. “There’s a really good feel to the season and we’re looking forward to our first game on Sunday.
“This season we only have a couple of ‘senior’ boys so to speak – Lachie Wales being a ’97 [born in 1997], Jack Kuipers & James Markovic. So, it’s a particularly young squad this season with most of the boys being born in ’98, ’99 and 2000.
“We’ve gone about our business in the way of re-igniting the Mariners culture, I know that’s been a big driver from the Hyundai A-League squad.
“The goal has been to get players in so that we can work with them for an extended period of time, it’s really hard for young players to adapt overnight if you’re not used to training 4-5 sessions per week in a full-time environment. In 4-6 months, it could all be over before you know it so with the inclusion of NPL & NYL there’s a level of patience so we’ve been instructed to look younger and we’ve done that,” O’Sullivan said.
The Foxtel National Youth League can also act as an outlet for returning Hyundai A-League players to earn match fitness that may be retuning from injury or lacking game time and O’Sullivan says that his squad must look at the positive influence they can have on younger players.
“From an FNYL point of view, the focus is on our day-to-day development – so the games are a bonus at this stage,” O’Sullivan said. “That’s easy for me to say as a coach but it’s not easy to accept as a young player – you obviously want to be playing every game.
“The reality of an eight-week competition is that the Hyundai A-League squad will quite rightfully include some senior players in our match day squad from a minute’s point of view. From our point of view it’s a huge benefit because the younger players can learn from them and teach them the playing style we want to instill. It does mean that our younger players will get less time but they will get their chance.
“The focus is two-fold for us,” O’Sullivan said. “It’s about supporting the A-League staff with their playing roster – This Sunday is also our first test to see if the boys can implement what we’ve been working on. Our major focus is to ensure we play the right way.
“If the boys can win a game, we would love that, everyone wants to win but it really will be heavily focused on the way we play and building more fitness,” O’Sullivan said.
O’Sullivan credited his technical staff who all bring their own level of expertise to the coaching ranks.
“I am really happy with our coaching model,” O’Sullivan said. “It links our entire academy pathway from the North Shore Mariners and the Central Coast Mariners Academy.
“All the coaches bring different qualities. Will [Vasquez] is very methodical, he’s a student of the game, he’s great at bringing new ideas to the table. Joe Haywood has worked in academy set ups in the UK and has a wealth of experience so there’s always new ideas being passed around the table. We’ve got Pete Preston as well who is our genuine Central Coast man who brings a lot of quality as well and has done a great job on the Central Coast.
“Between the four of us there are continual new ideas so we’re really fortunate to also link in with people like Michael Torbica who link in from the Hyundai A-League squad from a physical point of view,” O’Sullivan said.
Newcastle Jets Youth vs. Central Coast Mariners Youth
Sunday, 19 November 2017
Venue: No. 2 Sports Ground, Newcastle