Training with the Australian U/17 National Team

30 December 2010

“Your good technically, but you need to play at a quicker pace, have quicker decision making, and positioning to play for Australia.”

After two trial trainings at the Australian Institute of Sport this week,  that was the sum up. It was a great experience to train with the squad (who are all about a year or two younger than me) who are playing in the under 17 world cup next year and are coming second in the a-league youth table, even when they are playing with teams who have players up to 21 (max age for AIS is 17). This group is probably the best crop of youth players in Australia.
Started off training on Tuesday where I met with Jan, the head coach and Gary the assistant coach (I found out 6 months later that Gary had actually won the a-league with the Newcastle Jets beforehad as the manager!) in their office. I thought I made a good first impression speaking to them, I think they were impressed that I looked like a confident guy and could speak well to them.
The first training didn’t go so well. I thought I lacked that extra level of fitness to keep up, but after three weeks without proper training this makes sense. We played 4×4 minute games and I don’t think I’ve sprinted more in my life as a right winger.
Technically I thought I could keep up and I was technically better than some of the players there. My downside was just getting used to the pace of play as it was quicker than I expected (on TV it looks pretty slow). The other problem is that I got nervous again! Even though I said to myself that I would just have fun with it. Something I gotta learn to beat.
The second day, I did.. well not so good again. The main highlight is that I played in 2×15 minute 8v8 games. Where I was the man who played with whoever had the ball. I scored a nice goal, but I fucked up a few times. Some embarrassing mistakes which I’ll leave behind me, but again, I thought it was all just down to the pace I wasn’t used too.
At the end of the second training, the coaches wanted to talk to me for a minute. Jan used his hands to describe that I was a few levels lower to play with guys like tommy oar, and guys who’s names I didn’t know.
They basically said “Your good technically, but you need to play at a quicker pace, have quicker decision making, and positioning to play for Australia.”
I asked if I adapted to a higher pace, if I would stand a chance. And they said “yeah” without hesitation. Jan said the under 19’s play at 3x faster pace.
Jan told me I should be looking to get into a-league club, so if he was suggesting that, then he must know I’m good enough. He also said I must try play at a higher level, somewhere that is much faster, and when I start playing mens football in the 4th division, this is where I can improve these things, which I cant improve on my own, only with a team.
I’ve also been thinking about my positioning. I feel as though I could play better as an quick, attacking minded right back, because I love getting into slide tackles. Or maybe even a striker with my great right foot. I just feel as if I were like a right back, quick decision making and playing pace wouldn’t be as important. And I could save my sprinting energy to go up for runs and the occasional good shot. I would probably need to improve my strength though, especially if I’m trying to play first team in Europe.
Although, I do feel that if I were in the AIS squad and could train with them for a few months that I could become a very good player for them from adapting to the pace.
All in all, the experience was pretty much invaluable. I can put it on my CV and mention it to clubs.. I now know that I can stand a chance of playing for an a league club and that I’m just short of a few special ingredients to play in Europe and one day, for Australia. This all happened without the help of any contacts, just a video and some emailing persistence.
This Week
Missed about 5 1/2 hours all up because of new years celebrations and such. Next week is my last in Australia and then it’s off back to the regular routine. 15 1/2 hours next week.
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In 2009, I was an average soccer player with a dream. I started this blog to document my journey from local underdog to getting offered over $100,000 in soccer scholarships, a contract to play professionally and the experience of playing in Europe.
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