Sydney FC’s opening round Big Blue against Melbourne Victory was a historic moment for the club’s youth development pathway.
For the first time, Steve Corica fielded an entire substitutes bench of players developed by the Sky Blues Academy for an Isuzu-UTE A-League Men’s clash.
All seven players – goalkeeper Adam Pavlesic, strikers Patrick Wood, Jaiden Kucharski and Mitch Glasson, defenders Zac De Jesus and Aaron Gurd, plus midfielder Joe Lacey – have successfully forged a path from Sydney FC’s Academy to the A-League.
It was a proud moment for Sydney FC, Technical Director Youth Kelly Cross.
“This is another milestone as we see our club move further towards achieving its long-term goals,” he said.
“We are shifting towards a younger first team squad and aiming to give our youth talents earlier opportunities; this is why, for example, Steve named Joe Lacey, a 16-year-old on the bench.”
“This evolution gives all of our Academy staff tremendous satisfaction and personally I am very proud of all our players and staff,” he continued.
“We know that it’s not just about young players, it’s very much about talented young players and ensuring they are prepared for the requirements of first-team football.
“That is very much the focus for us, and it has been since we started eight years ago.”
The club’s pathway begins with players aged under 11 and 12 who sign up to attend the Sydney FC Academy Training Program.
Those who are good enough are selected for the club’s under 13’s Academy side and progress through the U14/15/16/18/20 and NPL first grade, before getting an A-League opportunity.
Saturday’s clash was a night to remember for striker Mitch Glasson who made his Isuzu-UTE A-League debut which he described as a “surreal” moment.
And he was elated about the opportunity to represent his hometown club professionally.
“It’s a moment I will never forget and coming on [and] just seeing my name, number, it was amazing,” he said.
“I have dreamed about it since I have been a kid, and worked hard for it, so I feel very fortunate.”
The 17-year-old was recently promoted to the senior team, signing a three-year deal.