Jessie and Matthew head to Germany
PREPARING to board a plane for the first time, Jessie Comerford can be forgiven for having trouble pronouncing the names of the places he and Matthew Haines will visit.
So it’s a good thing this pair of 15-year-olds from McAuley Catholic College will let their feet do the talking.
On June 22 Comerford and Haines will head to places like Saarbruecken Braunshausen and Cottbus in Germany as part of the Joeys Football Academy.
The Inverell-based institution selects talented soccer stars and, every two years, gives them the opportunity of a lifetime to tour some of the European country’s most-established academies.
An elite women’s soccer centre is based in Saarbruecken – where Comerford, Haines and seven fellow Joeys will “be treated like royalty” – while a trip to Cottbus’ academy and a tour of the Olympic Stadium is also on the agenda.
In between the site-seeing will be some friendly matches against local line-ups.
“It’s going to be fun,” says
winger Comerford, who has already booked a window seat for the trip. It’s going to make us better players all up.
“While we are over there we could get signed by some German clubs – that would be great.”
Haines, a central defender, says returning to the local competition should be a walk in the park after squaring off with some of Germany’s best.
The trip coincides with the World Cup in South Africa.
“Coming back to the local competition it should make a big difference,” Haines said.
The coaching trip is being run by veteran German coach Heinrich Haussler.
It will be his third tour with the Joeys Academy, which works closely with former national team boss Rale Rasic, who guided Australia to the 1974 World Cup finals.
“You can’t do much better than a former national coach,” Haussler said. “And when I first started the Joeys I promised them I would take them to the World Cup in Germany (in 2006).
“I’ve done it ever since. It’s such an opportunity. They really see what football is all about.”
The Joeys Academy has links to Toowoomba Grammar School as well as A-League franchise the Brisbane Roar.
And Haussler says he has got two potential stars in Comerford and Haines.
“I look for good young players,” he said. “I have known the boys for a few years now. They are very talented kids.
“This gives them a direct connection with the Brisbane Roar.”