This Week (4)
At this early phase of the season, I am impressed by the atmosphere created by our players. From the Mini Mongo to the Academy players, there is a sense of enjoyment and happiness while learning. This is exactly the type of environment we have worked hard over the years to develop. Sometimes we have to draw a line to make sure that young players recognise and respect training requirements.
I am amazed to see how quickly the Mini Mongo players are settling. Not only they are full of energy but their sense of discipline while learning is remarkable. There is obviously a lot of work ahead for us in nurturing and guiding them.
The Academy and Advanced Academy players are heading to Bathurst today for a 2 day tournament. This will also be a great bonding opportunity for families to connect and get to know each other better. The benefits for players are immense as they get to spend 2 nights together bonding while playing football. From a football point of view, we are still preparing the players who are coming back from a long off season layoff. It is therefore important to keep this in mind at home when talking to your child. Pre season is very different to the season proper as players reconnect with the game psychologically, physically, technically and tactically. Please be prepared to support them as they challenge themselves to get better.
With the good news coming out of Melbourne this week, we should be able to provide more information for the April tournament in Melbourne. Details for Cairns should also be available next week.
They have lit up the A-League and been central to an exciting brand of attacking football that has had fans on the edge of their seats this season.
Young stars like Alou Kuol, the Toure brothers and Valentino Yuel are among an extraordinary diaspora of at least 26 players with African heritage in the A-League – comprising more than 10% of the whole playing group.
It’s a trend that has gathered pace exponentially, in large part due to globalisation – allied to conflict in parts of Africa, leaving many with no choice but to up sticks, and try to find a country where they can have safer lives, with greater opportunities. Australia has provided that opportunity for many.
When Awer Mabil scored his first Socceroos goal against Kuwait in 2018, the first team-mate to congratulate him was Thomas Deng. The pair were childhood friends – a bond forged in Adelaide, through a shared background as refugees from the African continent.
In a world full of political tumult, the beaming smiles on the faces of two kids of South Sudanese heritage seemed to epitomise the opportunity sport (and football in particular) presented for a brighter future.
Migration wasn’t quite so simple back in the 80’s and 90’s, when relatively few players of African heritage were part of the NSL. Cyrille Ndongo-Keller was one of the exceptions.