All the hard work is starting to pay off for Murray United’s under 13s squad.
The talented group currently sits third in the NPL competition and have eight players, plus two emergencies, selected for Victoria Country for this month’s National Youth Championships in Coffs Harbour.
Harrison Watson, Jai Dal Zotto, Jay Barker, Kane O’Reagan, Leeam Hughes, Linus Bourke, Obiora Eze and captain Oscar O’Keefe have all made the final squad, while Riley Thompson and Josh Grima have been offered train-on positions.
The state players have been training weekly in Melbourne, but will face some tough competition with A-League academies and several state teams also taking part in the tournament.
Murray United technical director Adam Carty admitted the biggest challenge for the Victoria Country boys is the fact the academy sides have been playing together the entire season.
“At the girls national championships, the Newcastle Jets academy won everything in under 13s and 14s because they’ve been together so long,” Carty said,
“The majority of this team is from here, Geelong has some and there’s a couple from GV (Goulburn Valley Suns) as well.
“They should know each other pretty well and they’re a good bunch of kids.”
Carty said the majority of the Murray United under 13s have been together for at least four years, with a few new faces joining them this season.
“I think the diversity of where they’re coming from is great, you’ve got kids from Wagga, Oxley, Wangaratta and Benalla, all coming here together and playing football like this is fantastic,” Carty said.
“The goalkeeper Jay (Barker) was in the 13s in the state last year, so this is his second year at under 13s.
“They’ve got one more game against South Melbourne and they’re done, but they’re training every Saturday in Melbourne at the moment for the state team.
“The key is playing quality together for so long, they’re pushing each other along nicely.”
O’Keeffe, 13, is really excited to be selected for his first state team.
“It’s good to be in an environment where the players are really good and we’re learning a lot,” O’Keeffe said.
“It’s good having a lot of my teammates in the team.
“Hopefully I can learn a few more things and I hope our team can do alright up there at the tournament.”
Meanwhile, Brodie Porta has made the Victorian Country under 14s side for the national championships, backing up from his selection in the under 13s last year.
The National Youth Championships run from September 24-28 at Coffs International Stadium.
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