Three Launceston soccer players will have the chance to shine in the national spotlight next week seeking to follow the path of two fellow Tasmanians.
A year after Nathaniel Atkinson was picked up by Melbourne City and two years after Hobart’s Josh Hope went to Melbourne Victory, Atkinson’s Riverside Olympic clubmates Will Smith and Jarrod Hill and Charlie Dyer, of Westside Devils, have the opportunity to join them.
The three 15-year-olds are part of Tasmania’s National Training Centre challenge squad which will play against other federations at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra from December 5-9.
They will perform in front of national team staff, often including Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou, and representatives of A-League clubs and academies.
“This is the big one for these boys because they are looking for national under-16 players,” Football Federation Tasmania’s Northern technical manager Anthony Alexander said.
“The challenge is there for them and I think these three are going to perform well. We work with these guys twice a week and they’ve been excellent.
“This is the highest representation we have had from the North and there were others very close from Northern Rangers and Launceston United.”
All products of a decade-long involvement in the Northern Tasmania Junior Soccer Association at Churchill Park, the trio will join Devonport Strikers pair Luka Argent and Jack Rand in a squad of 18.
They will take part in six games across three days and then get divided into groups and play with players from other states.
Charlie, who plays for Westside Devils and attends Kings Meadows High School, said: “It will be something completely new for me. It will be a challenge and something to help us in the long run and a good chance to put ourselves in the national spotlight.”
As goalkeepers at Windsor Park, Will and Jarrod are naturally both keen to grab their opportunity with both hands.
“There are going to be players there that will become pros so it’s a bit of a challenge for everyone to see how they compare with the best in Australia of our age and we’re excited to try and perform to the best of our abilities,” said Will, of St Patrick’s College.
Jarrod, who attends Riverside High and was the only Northern player in the equivalent state squad last year, added: “It’s a real step up from last year and going to be more physically and mentally challenging so it will be interesting to see how everyone reacts with the increased pressure.”