NTC Boys' success highlights strength of youth football development in Victoria

The Victorian NTC Boys win back-to-back FFA National Institute Challenge titles as youth football development in Victoria goes from strength to strength.

By Julian Trantino (@jtrantino16)

Victorian National Training Centre (NTC) Boys head coach Boris Seroshtan says his squad’s recent success highlights the strength of youth football development in Victoria.

Seroshtan’s squad arrived home on Saturday after winning back-to-back FFA National Institute Challenge titles in Canberra.

The Victorians finished on top of the ladder with seven wins from eight matches, scoring 21 goals and conceding just five.

They secured the title with a 1-0 against the Queensland Academy of Sport in the final, with Josh Cavallo’s penalty separating the two sides.

To top it off, four Victorians were selected in the All Stars (best players in the tournament) squad: Sebastian Pasquali, Denis Genreau, Connor Metcalfe and Mersim Memeti.

Seroshtan said he was extremely proud of the boys.

“We used this analogy with the group: to finish top of the NTC Challenge ladder was like winning the English Premier League, and then to go on and win the NTC Challenge Final was like winning the FA Cup Final, so to succeed at both of these different tests last week in Canberra says a lot about the quality and character of the players in this squad,” Seroshtan said.

“Congratulations must also go to the four players that were selected to play in the All Stars exhibition match this year. They were a crucial part of a fantastic squad throughout the week and fully deserved this recognition.”

Victoria's players selected for the All Stars (left to right): Mersim Memeti, Denis Genreau, Connor Metcalfe and Sebastian Pasquali.

Victoria's players selected for the All Stars (left to right): Mersim Memeti, Denis Genreau, Connor Metcalfe and Sebastian Pasquali.

The success in Canberra marks the Victorian NTC Boys’ most decorated year to date, winning two Challenge titles and the National Premier Leagues U18 East championship in the past 12 months.

Seroshtan said the success owed to the hard work and commitment of a wide range of people in the Victorian football community.

“Victoria is at the forefront of youth football development in Australia, but there are no huge secrets to it,” he said.

“You can see it on the weekends during the winter competition - there are parents, club officials, volunteers and coaches all working together to create a positive, fun environment for young players to experience the love of playing football, and as we all know, this is where the journey begins.

“As the players get a little older and demonstrate a desire to learn and be challenged, there now appears to be a much more educated group of clubs, programs and coaches, and parents for that matter, that are able to create an environment for the talented player to thrive.

“Our role in the NTC program comes a little further down the development pathway. When a lot of the development has already taken place, we focus on identifying the best young talent in Victoria, then put them through our specific program to give them the best opportunity to become young, professional footballers.”

Seroshtan said he was “privileged” to be involved with a "great team of people", who have raised the professionalism and established an invaluable relationship with the players.

“I am sure I speak on behalf of the players and the parents, that without the technical and tactical insights from Michael McBride (assistant coach), we would not be where we are today,” he said.

“Michael develops the players’ understanding of the relationship between technique and intelligence. His attention to detail, effective communication and ability to bring new elements into the game are quite brilliant.

“During the week his breakdown of each of our performances, along with analysis of the next opposition, were precise. We went into each match with a clear plan involving a simple adjustment of our system and patterns.

“Our goalkeeper coach, Jeff Olver, has played over 50 matches for the Socceroos and his knowledge and experience were invaluable.

“Our physio, Peter Gavalas, was excellent at looking after the boys all week, and young Michael Swinnerton (team manager) and Salim Bahamdun (sports scientist) ensured everything ran smoothly in the background.”

FFV technical director David Smith said FFV’s Talented Player programs were going from strength to strength thanks to the growing support of the wider Victorian football community.

“The boys and girls NTC squads are the pinnacle of Victoria’s youth development structures,” Smith said.

“The Talented Player programs are well supported by the NPL and A-League clubs, while the work that Physiohealth and Victoria University do with these programs continue to produce huge benefits.

“All these elements are crucial to the long-term development of youth footballers in Victoria.”

There will be no rest for the NTC staff in the lead-up to Christmas, as the identification process for the 2015 NTC Boys Program enters the final stage.

Seroshtan said it would be a “difficult task” to finalise selections for the 2015 team, with another talented pool of players to choose from.

The Victorian NTC Boys celebrate back-to-back titles in Canberra.

The Victorian NTC Boys celebrate back-to-back titles in Canberra.

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