Soccer juniors to Japan
A PAIR of local junior soccer players will take on the world in Tokyo after being named in a travelling NSW Under-14 squad.
Jaiden Walker and Kalen Petrie, who play for South Lismore, will come up against the best juniors from soccer powerhouses such as Brazil, Germany, Italy and South Korea in the Tokyo Youth Tournament from April 27.
Each country is represented by a top-flight junior soccer organisation within its borders, with Northern NSW Football and Football NSW combining to provide an invited side from down under.
Tour manager David Smith sees the tournament as a golden opportunity for our young soccer players to fast-track development by integrating with juniors from all over the world.
“Each nation has its own style of soccer,” Smith said.
“And generally Aussie kids have the athleticism and the raw talent to match anyone but we lack a bit on the technical side of things.”
The former coach sees match-ups with teams from traditional soccer-playing nations as helping with the growth of Australian juniors in those technical skills.
“It just gives our boys a great chance to see where they are at in comparison to kids of the same age from other countries,” he said.
“One of the kids who will be playing in the Brazilian team has just signed a $1million deal with a big-name club.”
Brazil will be represented by its famed San Paolo Soccer Academy, Russian club Sparta Moscow will send its juniors and South Korea will be represented in full by its Under-14 national team, giving an idea of the level of competition Jaiden and Kalen will come up against.
The seven-day tournament includes two games a day with finals to be contested on a J-League pitch – where the professionals play.
The NSW combined team will attend a three-day pre-tournament camp in Yaizu to acclimatise before attending a J-League match between Shimizu and Omiya on April 24.
Football NSW has been at the past two tournaments, finishing eighth and seventh, but with the added firepower of Northern NSW Football, and FNC midfielders Jaiden and Kalen, team management is this year aiming for a top-six finish.