Sydney FC Academy sets standard across the league

The Sydney FC Academy has once again shown why it is one of the most successful Academies in Australian football after further graduates made their Isuzu UTE A-League debut on Saturday night.

Jaiden Kucharski and Jake Girdwood-Reich were the latest from a line of graduates to make their debut on Saturday night, players who have been taught the Sydney FC way from a young age, and who now are reaping the rewards.

The Sydney FC Academy began in 2015 and from then, many talented juniors flocked to the Sky Blues with the hope of one day, playing out their footballing dream. Kucharski and Girdwood-Reich joined the Academy in 2016, have worked their way through the ranks and now can show what they can do on the biggest stage.

Jake Girdwood-Reich was the latest to make his A-League debut

On Saturday night, the Sydney FC team was filled with Academy alumni and for the club as a whole, this was a fantastic achievement.

Patrick Wood, Patrick Yazbek and Aaron Gurd all started Saturday’s match against Macarthur, all graduates of the Sydney FC Academy.

From the bench, Adrian Segecic, Max Burgess, Jaiden Kucharski, Jake Girdwood-Reich and Tom Heward-Belle all learnt their trade at Sydney FC from a young age.



And they weren’t just there to make up the numbers. Aaron Gurd is impressing as he notches more A-League appearances to his name, Patrick Wood scored the opening goal of the match and earnt himself Player of the Match as voted for by the fans. Adding to that, the impact of Adrian Segecic and Jaiden Kucharski off the bench was pivotal, involved in the all important third goal which saw Jaiden square the ball for Adrian for his first A-League goal.

It was a goal that was fostered in the Academy and produced at Campbelltown Stadium.

However, the Academy wasn’t only on show in Leumeah on Saturday; other ex-Sydney FC youngsters are plying their trade elsewhere. Nectar Triantis played 90 minutes against the reigning A-League champions with the Central Coast Mariners, Harry Van Der Saag has earnt himself a starting berth at Adelaide United under Carl Veart and took all three points against Perth Glory. Callum Talbot and Marco Tilio are running amuck at Melbourne City, highlighted as some of the best young talent that Australia has to offer, along with Calem Nieuwenhof who has settled into Marko Rudan’s Wanderers team with aplomb. Jed Drew has also been enjoying his time under Dwight Yorke at Macarthur and got 45 minutes against his former employees.

And that’s not even scratching the surface of the Sydney FC Academy alumni. Cam Devlin, Heart of Midlothian in Scotland, Philip Cancar, Livingston in Scotland and Cam Peupion, Brighton & Hove Albion in the Premier League. Plus Stevan Stanic-Floody in Ireland, Joel King in Denmark and Jordan Swibel in Israel.

Joel King playing with the Socceroos

“This is one of the largest contingencies of Academy graduates that exist across Australian football and is one that Sydney FC Academy Director Kelly Cross is delighted with.

“We have developed our own way of working here at the Academy and believe it is very different to what you will observe in most other places. So when we see our players achieving their goals in football, it is a strong vindication of what we have done here,” Cross said.

“Of course, our main aim is to see the lads end up in the Sky Blue of Sydney FC and for us it is a special occasion every time one of our graduates makes his debut.

Segecic and Kucharski celebrate after scoring the eventual winner

“Everyone involved in the Academy, past and present, has contributed to these debuts and we all get a huge sense of pride and satisfaction,” he added.

“A lot of our training is focused on scoring goals, the best positioning and the ideal ways of assisting, which is based on analysis of every goal scored at the World Cup since 2002; Adrian’s goal last weekend, with Jaiden’s assist, is a perfect example. In fact, I was overseas during the match, and I received a text from one of our coaches saying ‘Segecic scores, Kucharski assists, classic Academy goal!’

“We have had the pleasure of sharing the journeys of so many talented players, and it’s a real shame that there isn’t room for all of them at the top. All our Academy boys are a joy to work with and our staff are privileged to be part of their development. A relatively small number will get the accolades and pro contracts, but we believe every single one of them has played a part in whatever we achieve,” Cross concluded.


With more waiting in the wings, it will only be a matter of time until we see more of the Sydney FC Academy on the biggest stage around the world.


Full List of Graduates to have played professional minutes.

Player NameCurrent ClubYear of BirthNational Honour
Chris ZuvelaFree Agent1998
Cameron DevlinHeart of Midlothian1997Socceroo
Pat FlottmanFree Agent1997
Tom Heward-BelleSydney FC1997
Jerry SkodatisMacarthur Bulls2000
Joel KingOdense BK2000Socceroo
Marco TilioMelbourne City2001Socceroo
Harry van der SaagAdelaide Utd1999
Liam McGingFree Agent1998
Ryan TeagueFamalicao2002Olyroo
Adam PavlesicSydney FC2002
Luke IvanovicPerth Glory2000
Anton MlinaricBrisbane Roar2002
Cameron PeupionBrighton and Hove Albion2002Olyroo
Callum TalbotMelbourne City2001Olyroo
Calem NieuwenhofWestern Sydney Wanderers2001
Jordan SwibelHapoel Nof HaGalil1999
Jake HollmanMacarthur Bulls2001
Pat YazbekSydney FC2002Olyroo
Pat WoodSydney FC2002Olyroo
Phil CancarLivingstone2001
Jaiden KucharskiSydney FC2002Young Socceroo
Aaron GurdSydney FC2001
Corey HollmanSydney FC2003
Jake Girdwood ReichSydney FC2004Young Socceroo
Zachery SapsfordWestern Sydney Wanderers2002
Aidan SimmonsWSW2003
Jed DrewMacarthur Bulls2003
Nectar TriantisCentral Coast Mariners2003Young Socceroo
Stevan Stanic-FloodyDrogheda United2003
George TimotheauMelbourne Victory1997Young Socceroo
John IredaleSV Wehhen Wiesbaden1999Olyroos
Charles LokolingoyZebbug Rangers1997