Victorian NTC Boys prepare for tough FFA National Institute Challenge

The Victorian NTC Boys have had to overcome a series of challenges ahead of the 2014 FFA National Institute Challenge.

By Julian Trantino (@jtrantino16)

The Victorian National Training Centre (NTC) Boys head to Canberra on Sunday to contend the 2014 FFA National Institute Challenge, but face an uphill battle to replicate the feats of last year.

A handful of players have recently left the team after earning National Youth League (NYL) contracts, meaning head coach Boris Seroshtan has had to quickly assemble a squad capable of defending its Challenge title against the country's most talented footballers born between 1999 and 2000.

But that has been no easy feat, and Seroshtan admits this is the biggest challenge he’s had to face in the five years he’s been involved with the NTC program.

"Obviously it is not ideal to change such a large proportion of the squad in the final weeks leading up to a tournament, however it is a double-edged sword situation,” Seroshtan said.

"On one side they [player departures] have clearly disrupted our team preparations, given that the new players have not been involved in the program throughout 2014.

“From another perspective, it gives six or seven young players an opportunity to be tested at the highest level.

"There is a quite a large amount of knowledge and insight to acquire and implement in such a short period of time, particularly in the group of defenders where four of the players involved are completely new to the program.

"These new players have been under the microscope daily during the course of the last month, and I am extremely happy with their progress and proud of their effort, commitment and willingness to learn.”

Similar to the 2013 squad, Seroshtan considered the Relative Age Effect (RAE) when identifying players born in 1999 for the NTC program.

This was to prevent an overflow of early, physically matured players - often born in the first half of the year - from gaining all opportunities in youth development programs across the country.

"Once again I am pleased that we have close to a 50-50 split of players born from both halves of the year,” Seroshtan said.

"Additionally, we have included three players born in 2000, which will be a fantastic challenge for them.”

While the odds are stacked against the Victorian NTC Boys claiming back-to-back titles in Canberra, FFV technical director David Smith believes Victorian youth development is moving in a positive direction.

Victoria has had a reputation of being flaky in national tournaments like these in previous years, but Smith, who joined FFV from Northern NSW Football in April this year, said the Victorians had made drastic improvements.

"Obviously the Institute Challenge is a highly competitive environment, however yes it is true that Victoria often had a certain reputation at these types of national tournament,” Smith said.

“I was involved with Northern NSW Football last year and witnessed first-hand a very different and impressive Victorian NTC program on display.

"Not only did they win the championship, which I think surprised many, but more importantly the professionalism, respect, style of play and the positive culture within the group was for all to see.

"I think most people involved last year would have left with a completely new outlook on Victorian football and our challenge this year will be to continue to implement the Victorian NTC playing style.”

Fixtures:

December 1

9:00am: Football Federation Tasmania NTC v FFV NTC (won 2-1)
4: 30pm: FFV NTC v Football Federation Northern Territory NTC (won 2-0)

December 2

10:30am: Queensland Academy of Sport v FFV NTC (lost 1-0)
4:30pm: Emerging Jets Game Training v FFV NTC

December 3

10:30am: FFV NTC v Australian Capital Territory Academy of Sport
4:00pm:  Football Federation South Australia NTC v FFV NTC

December 4

9:30am: FFV NTC v Perth Glory

December 5

9:00am: Football New South Wales NTC v FFV NTC
4:00pm: Bonus points winner v Game points winner

December 6

9:45am: Final winner v All Stars

Victorian NTC Boys squad for 2014 FFA National Institute Challenge:

Shirt number First name Surname DOB
19 Peter Bervanakis 24/09/1999
16 Rory Brian 18/02/1999
9 Joshua Cavallo 13/11/1999
20 Denis Genreau 21/05/1999
13 Steven Lechowicz 11/10/1999
14 Peter Marziano 12/01/1999
10 Connor Metcalfe 5/11/1999
6 Sebastian Pasquali 7/11/1999
7 Gerrie Sylaidos 25/08/1999
21 Christian Theoharous 6/12/1999
17 Aleksandar Stanisavljevic 6/05/1999
2 Gabriel Beck-Godoy 14/02/1999
4 Noah Farfalla 8/01/1999
5 Michael Radziminski 29/03/1999
1 Nathan Prince 4/01/2000
22 Mersim Memeti 22/07/2000
3 Dylan Pierias 4/01/2000

The FFA National Institute Challenge begins on Monday, December 1. For updates, head to the FFV Talented Player Development Facebook page.

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