If you needed more evidence that Sydney FC’s Academy Schools give promising young footballers chances to fulfill sporting dreams, then look no further than the appearance of 17-year old goalkeeper Max Vartuli on the bench in the Sydney Derby on Saturday.
The Endeavour Sports High School pupil hasn’t even played a competitive NPL first grade game but was given a call up after bouts of Covid-19 and concussion forced Andrew Redmayne and Tom Heward-Belle onto the sidelines.
19 year-old Adam Pavlesic deputized between the sticks but there was always the possibility young Vartuli would be called on.
“It was a great experience for my development, being in that environment with the professionals and in the top league in Australia and I learned a lot from it.
“The coach [Matt Nash] called me a day or two before and pulled me in and said you are probably going to be on the bench.
“I knew it was the derby so I thought this is going to be a really good experience for me, especially with the atmosphere of the crowd, so I was just trying to get mentally prepared in case I had to go on.
“There were a few nerves being in that environment and atmosphere in front of thousands of people, however everyone welcomed me into the dressing room and I felt really at home.”
Vartuli began in Sydney FC’s Academy Schools Program at Matraville Sports High School in Years 7 and 8, aged 13, before moving to Endeavour Sports High in Year 9.
“It’s a really good program at Endeavour,” he continued. “The Sydney FC coaches are especially good at creating a good environment and it’s very professional. The program is really growing.”
Endeavour & Sydney FC Under 15’s Head Coach Pat McCann said: “We’ve known about Max since he was 13 and first entered the Academy Schools program.
“It demonstrates the effectiveness of the pathway and the connected nature of the Academy Schools and the Academy.
“Within a year of Max joining the schools’ program, he’d been scouted by Kelly Cross [Sydney FC – Technical Director – Youth] and was playing in the Academy under 15’s.
“He is 100% committed to his craft and he loves performing for the school and the club.
“He’s an ideal student athlete and a role model for younger players; he mentors our younger goalkeepers and always wants to do the best for everyone around him.
“He has the perfect profile for a Sydney FC Academy student and his journey is the exact pathway we envisioned when the concept of Academy Schools was brought to life.”
To find out more about Sydney FC Academy Schools – click this link – Academy Schools.