by Jeremy Walker
Sky Blues Academy stars are looking to win NPL silverware as four out of five youth teams compete in grand final action at Sydney United Sports Centre on Saturday.
Sydney FC U13’s, U15’s, U16’s and U18’s will take the field this weekend in search of 2022 FNSW Youth League Championship trophies – with the U14’s the only side to miss out on a grand final spot.
Sky Blues Junior Academy Manager, Nick Susko, is delighted with the way the youth players have been developing in training throughout the 2022 season.
“We want to try and develop individuals to progress through the academy and reach their full potential and become the best versions of themselves,” said Susko.
“We’re able to have solid team performances off the back of an individual-first approach, through focusing on our individual players we’ve been able to put ourselves in a strong position on the weekend.”
With training designed to develop players’ unique talents, the Sydney FC U16’s have certainly benefited – with 6 players currently away at Australian Joeys training camp in preparation for the AFC U17 Asian Cup Qualifiers.
“We are pleased to be the club with the highest number of players in the current Joeys squad,” Susko added.
“The Joeys have had several camps and we’ve had about 11 players that have been either in the squad or on the radar of that Joeys squad.
“This particular camp we have 6 players … I think it’s a real testament to that group of players and obviously the staff and the environment that they’ve all been able to thrive in and develop individually.”
Although the U16’s will miss their Joeys stars in this weekend’s grand final, the other Sky Blues Academy teams will not be without forward-minded players in their respective grand finals.
Sydney FC U13’s found the back of the net a staggering 104 times in 2022, only conceding 13 goals and finishing the regular season on top of the table – 11 points above fellow grand-finalists Western Sydney Wanderers U13’s.
“We strongly believe in an attacking brand of football that puts us in positions where we’re more likely to score more goals than the opposition,” Susko said.
“We like to take a bit more of a unique approach to our development by focusing on goal scoring at training and trying to produce match winners, players that can influence the game by assisting and scoring goals.
“Obviously by working on those sorts of aspects at training, you also naturally work on defenders that are experts at stopping goals and becoming match winners at the other end of the field.”
The attacking emphasis on Sky Blues youth training has proven to be effective this campaign as the U13’s, U15’s and U16’s all finished as top scoring teams for the regular season – with the U18’s being second-top scorers with 72 goals in their respective league.
The Academy stars will undoubtedly need their attacking prowess this weekend as they face colossal Sydney derby clashes against talented Western Sydney Wanderers teams in the U13 and U18 divisions.
“It’s very exciting for those age groups, playing the Wanderers is always a special occasion but we treat it like any other match really and it’s important we don’t get carried away by the opposition,” Susko added.
“It’s just another game for the boys to be able to showcase their talents and experience a different style of game given that it’s a grand final, so it’s really just another learning opportunity.”
With the Sydney FC Men’s U20’s crowned champions last month, the Youth Academy will now look to make it 5 out of 7 NSW NPL Championships for the club across 2022.
For a full schedule of the 2022 FNSW Boys’ Youth League One Championship Series (Grand Finals), see the table below:
Saturday 24 September 2022 – Sydney United Sports Centre – Grand Finals
|Age Group||Fixture||Kick-off Time|
|U13||Sydney FC v Western Sydney Wanderers FC||8:30am|
|U14||SD Raiders FC v Western Sydney Wanderers FC||10:15am|
|U15||Central Coast Mariners FC v Sydney FC||12:00pm|
|U16||Sydney United 58 FC v Sydney FC||1:45pm|
|U18||Western Sydney Wanderers FC v Sydney FC||4:00pm|