Junior Suns look to shine

By Alex Mitchell

The Goulburn Valley’s portfolio of talented footballers is increasing, with another crop of starlets to represent their state at the National Championships.

Gerald Corbo (Tatura) and Hassan Al Hilfi (Shepparton) have been named in the under-13 Victorian Country squad, with Reece Reedy (Shepparton) an emergency.

The under-14 squad features four local representatives, with Christian Corso (Kyabram), Kai Lyster (Wangaratta), Garang Kuol (Shepparton) and James Nieuwenhuizen (Shepparton) all selected.

Ahead of the youngsters is a trip to Coffs Harbour for the FFA National Youth Championships, where the best 13 and 14-year-olds will put their talents on show from September 24 to 28.

FFV Talent Identification and Development Centre coach Tommy Giuliani said the players had gone through a gruelling trial process to earn the chance.

‘‘They’ve trialled for the talent identification centre in this area and from there they’ve trained for 16 weeks with me,’’ he said.

‘‘They went to Darebin, the International Sports Centre where FFV is based, and have been through a big trial process.

‘‘It’s open not just to NPL players, but to any player from anywhere.’’

Giuliani, who is an assistant coach with the side, said the teenagers, through hard work and dedication, had put themselves in the best possible position for future success.

‘‘They’re the best kids in Australia they’re up against, the next Olyroos (national under-23 side),’’ he said.

‘‘The next Joeys, the under-17s, usually come out of this tournament, so it’s the best.

‘‘It’s a massive opportunity, they’re going to travel with sports scientists, physios, it’s a whole week of football against all the other federations.’’

All the selected locals come from the Goulburn Valley Suns’ youth sides, but selection was open to players from any league.

Giuliani said it was a testament to the health of the game and the hard work all junior clubs in the area put in to see highly-talented youngsters produced.

‘‘There’s heaps of talent and the NPL pathway has allowed the kids to play a better level of talent each week,’’ he said.

‘‘So when they go and trial for these things, they’re not surprised. The level of competition they’re playing every week is letting them be a better player to make these sorts of tournaments, there’s more of them making it now.’’

The assistant coach said now was the time for the players to give their best and make their region proud.

‘‘It’s an honour for me and it’s an honour for their parents and their clubs, they’re representing our region, and it’s just awesome for them,’’ Giuliani said.

‘‘I just want to see them make new friends, and learn a new level of professionalism. It’s huge for them.’’