Teenager fights to make Nationals

WATERVIEW Heights teenager Robert James is preparing for the Football Federation Australia National Youth Championships begining this weekend in Sydney.

James is a member of the Northern NSW Under-16 Soccer Federation Squad.

The Year 11 McAuley Catholic College student is currently attending a three day pre-tournament camp in Newcastle prior to the opening match on Saturday against last year's champions, Queensland.

The camp will allow for the lads from the various regional centres to meet up and fine tune their team structure and work on specific plays that will assist them in the championships.

James, a former member of the 2004 NSW Institute of Sport Soccer Squad and Northern NSW 15s state squad last year, stepped up to the newly formed Premier League this season for local team Majos.

Unfortunately in one of their earlier round games he was the victim of a savage tackle which resulted in his left leg being snapped at the shin.

Fortunately, the break was a clean one and, despite being sidelined for the rest of the season, recovery and rehabilitation has progressed well to have him fit and healthy to play in the Nationals.

"He is a very determined young man," James' father Stewart said.

"At the time of the break he had just been notified he had been se- lected to play in the Catholic Schools Regional Diocesan team to play in Bathurst against other regional teams. He was looking forward to that.

"Regardless of the setback he remained focused throughout his period of incapacitation and was rewarded with his selection in the squad for the Nationals. Robert has worked very hard."

James has been training under the careful eye of representative coach Robert Usher at Rushforth Park over the past month.

This training as well as James individual fitness regime augers well for his return to his fearless style of goal keeping.

Some of the aims of the Championships is to identify potential National Youth players for placement in the AIS and other elite programs. It also provides an opportunity for the identification of high performance players, like James, by the Hyundai A-League team coaches and ancillary staff.

World Cup bid

SYDNEY. ? Australia will bid alone for the 2018 World Cup after its joint proposal with New Zealand was scuttled by soccer's governing body FIFA.

Football Federation Australia (FFA) chief executive John O'Neill said yesterday they would now work alone after FIFA said a joint bid would not be considered.

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