Nearly 100 of Sydney’s best young footballers will play at Lakeside Oval tomorrow as the QBE Sydney Swans Academy continues its search for talented players.
For the past six months Academy staff have been monitoring the development of around 150 boys in the Under 13 and Under 14 age groups.
The boys have been training in regional Academy programs but on Saturday morning they will play the third in a series of Academy trial games.
Academy North U13s will take on Academy South U 13s at 9am on the Swans training ground opposite the SCG, while the U14 Academy North and South teams will go head-to-head at 10.30am.
The boys have been selected from the Swans’ NSW zone. They come from as far away as Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie to the north, and Kiama to the south.
From each age group, eventually around 20 boys will be selected to go into the 2011 Academy program, which will provide around 40 weeks intensive training a year.
Boys who are not selected in the main Academy program will continue in the regional training programs.
Academy Talent and Identification Operations Manager, Chris Smith, says he hopes the boys are enjoying the experience of the trial games.
“It is fantastic to see all the best boys in our zone playing with and against each other. The games are played in good spirit but there is certainly a competitive edge,’’ Smith said.
“We are finding these trial games are useful to find out which boys can perform under more pressure than what they are used to in their local club games.
“We have changed the teams for each game to allow as many boys as possible to take part. All the boys who have played in three trial games will be involved in an extensive Academy development program in 2011, even if they don’t get selected in the main group.’’
The U13 and U14 trials are part of the larger QBE Sydney Swans Academy program which involves boys between the ages of 9 and 18.
Already boys aged 9, 10, 11 and 12 have been chosen from trial days and put into training and development programs.
The inaugural member of the QBE Sydney Swans Academy was 15-year-old Lloyd Perris, a Sydney Boys High student, who signed on earlier this year.
The Academy program is an historic initiative which allows the Swans to nurture boys as young as nine years old. If they are good enough, they can eventually play for the Swans without having to go through the AFL’s National Draft system.
Retired Sydney Swans coach Paul Roos has been appointed to the position of Head Coach of the QBE Sydney Swans Academy.