Melbourne Victory will return to the Border this weekend with its Academy program taking place in Albury-Wodonga on Saturday, October 19 and Sunday, October 20.
Set to featuring up to 60 talented players between the ages of 9-13, the Albury-Wodonga Pre-Academy program will be run by full-time Victory Academy staff including Drew Sherman, Gareth Naven, Grant Brebner, Jake Moyle and new U13-U16s coach, Martin Bullock.
Bullock has worked in youth development across various roles for a number of years after a long and distinguished career overseas in the English Premier League, and joins Victory’s Academy program from Brisbane Roar where he held a similar position.
The program aims to provide talented players in regional Victoria with a taste of the Victory Academy coaching program, which includes training sessions and workshops over the course of two days, and thus identify prospective players from the Albury-Wodonga region that could enter the Academy program.
Furthermore, the program will also strengthen Victory’s ties within the region, and in particular the relationship with Murray United FC that has grown and fostered a strong talent identification process.
“The relationship between Murray United Football Club and Melbourne Victory is vital for our regions aspiring players and coaches,” said Murray United Technical Director, Adam Carty.
“The relationship created a straight line between National Premier League (NPL) and the Hyundai A-League and presents players with identified potential to regularly been seen in the region by the country’s foremost youth coaches.
“Historically, players have needed to progress through a series of regional representative sides before being considered eligible as an identified talent.
“Now, however, with the strengthening of the relationship between clubs, it means players’ progress, growth and development is regularly discussed and monitored to help them reach their potential.
“Beyond the establishment of an NPL side in our region, this is best thing that has happened for youth football in our region.”
In a sign of the success of the program, Victory have signed two players into the Junior Academy teams for next season from the Albury-Wodonga region – Linus Bourke and Ryan Kemp.
Melbourne Victory General Manager – Technical & Academy, Drew Sherman, said that the program is an important aspect of discovering future talent like Bourke and Kemp and giving them the opportunity to take the next step in their professional development pathway.
“It is our responsibility as a professional club to provide the scope for talented young players in Victoria to access elite coaching and development opportunities,” said Sherman.
“The newly launched Academy program is one of the most important strategic elements for our club. Our success lies in the calibre of players we are able to recruit and develop, and therefore it’s of paramount importance to us to know prospective talent in regional areas.
“We also need to provide guidance and support that will allow the local clubs to deliver environments conducive to developing players and preparing them for the elite level.
“We are extremely proud of our work in Albury-Wodonga and our relationship with Murray United, and we hope that the signings of Ryan and Linus into the Academy will be the first of many talented players from the area pulling on the shirt of Melbourne Victory.”
Melbourne Victory are committed to ensuring that the Academy program is accessible for talented players regardless of geographical limitations or socio-economic background.
Hence, the Melbourne Victory Academy (U13-U21) is completely free of charge from next season, making Victory the first professional club in Victoria to offer this.