Young soccer stars in the making

Werrington FC?s Skills Acquisition Program players: Zac Harang, Elijah Ross, Marco Blazevic, Tamara Lukanovic.

Socceroo captain Mile Jedinak?s boyhood club was Werrington FC

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – JANUARY 03: Mile Jedinak of Australia poses during an Australian Socceroos headshot session at the InterContinental Hotel, on January 3, 2015 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images) MILE JEDINAKGetty ImagesSubscription Image

WHO would have known back in 1992 that this kid in the Werrington FC strip would grow up to captain the Socceroos?

Even those around at the time didn’t peg Mile Jedinak for greatness.

But his first football club helped instil a desire to succeed that’s taken the Australian Footballer of the Year to the top of his chosen profession.

Fast forward 23 years and Werrington FC is churning out a new generation of future champions — but maybe not the obvious one.

“We’re talking about finding the new Mile here, but why not develop the new Messi or Ronaldo?” asks coach Joe Badrov.

Badrov was coaching at Sydney United when Jedinak was 14.

“He was always a leader which is rare to find in a player,” Badrov said.

“In terms of his skill he wasn’t necessarily the best player in the team but he was a hard worker.”

The 2015 model Werrington junior has that same work ethic.

“They want to emulate their idols,” Badrov said. “So what I do is teach them to break down the moves that their idols do, and we practice these moves, and through it we’re getting some good results.”

That talent has not gone unnoticed at Football NSW with four eight-year-old players, three boys and one girl, chosen for the Skills Acquisition Program.

“It teaches you how to attack, how to defend and what’s the position: I do like it,” Tamara Lukanovic said.

Werrington Football Club is a rare beast on the Australian football landscape as they own their ground, Luddenham Oval.

Without any help from the local council, club members keep the ground in good shape but they’re hoping for a state government grant for lights so players can train at night. And that just might accelerate the development of the next Jedinak or Messi or Ronaldo.

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