NURSERY: Sawtell opens door to NCF Academy graduates
SAWTELL FC set the Coastal Premier League alight with a thrilling 5-4 win over North Coast FC on Saturday, but the Scorpions are looking to become the Academies unofficial feeder club.
Boasting a number of former North Coast Football Academy graduates, Sawtell are the youngest squad in the competition with an average age of around 19-years-old, but coach Jody Jenkins said he wouldn’t mind taking in a few more.
“We’ll try our best (to attract more graduates). Our assistant manager was a coach in the NPL for a number of years so he’s got contacts and he knows a few of these boys as well,” Jenkins said.
“Fingers crossed hopefully we should have a few of them next season. I like to think we’re a club on the up and they can see we’re going to go about things the right way. Hopefully we could be some sort of half way from the NPL to Sawtell Football Club.”
The Waern twins from Wooli are just two former graduates to make the jump in 2020.
Playing against a well-drilled NCF side, Jenkins said he is pleased to see juniors learning to play football the right way.
“We’re both pretty similar sides but our formation is different to theirs. The boys have come through the NPL system and try to play football the right way rather than just the long ball game,” he said.
“We want players keeping the ball and going for possession. We did that in patches but overall I was pleased with today.”
Jenkins said the win against strong opposition was a much-needed boost after a difficult run.
“It was a good game. I think we needed that as a confidence boost because we’ve had a few bad games lately,” he said.
“I know we only played the under-16 side but they’re a decent outfit with some physical players. I think we stood up well. We’ve had a couple of players missing this week so we had to call on a few of our reserves. They stepped up and one got a goal, they did well for us.”
North Coast FC coach Nathan Silvy praised his side’s second half, but said it was always a difficult task after being 4-1 down at the half.
“Our first half was very poor but you’ve got to give credit where it’s due. Our boys worked very hard to get back into the game in the second half but we just had too much work to do to make up for our start,” Silvy said.
The demand and physicality of the CPL has proved a challenge for Silvy’s side, but he said it was all part of the experience.
“A lot of it was due to the game on Wednesday night. There were a lot of tired bodies, but that’s what these boys are here for. They’ve got to get up for it and turn up every game to play,” he said.
“It’s been great. It’s something most of these guys will look forward to doing next year. It’s given them an early insight into what senior football is and they’ve shown they can match it.
“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity for these guys to experience this and get into it early and make a mark. Some coaches can see what they’ve got and there might be a few offers on the table.”
Silvy expects big things from his playing group in their last year at the Academy, but said the CPL is a likely landing spot for many of the young stars in 2021.
“This squad of kids are a very special group but there’s definitely a few standouts. We’re hoping for bigger and better things beyond local areas. That’s the aim, to set these kids up to go on and play high level football,” he said.
Sawtell and North Coast will have the week off, before playing Boambee FC and Coffs Coast Tigers respectively, on Saturday.