Under-16s sparkling in stellar season for PGFC Academy

In what is shaping up to be another stellar year for the PGFC Academy, the Under-16 squad has shone especially brightly.

With five wins from six games, the youngsters sit atop their NPL WA section ladder, but it's not only their results that have been impressive.

A host of their players have earned the opportunity to move up and feature for the Under-18s and even the Under-20s, an experience which their Head Coach, Igor Colic, believes is invaluable for their development.

"I think it's very clear to us all when we see the players step up, that they rise to the challenge of playing against more senior players," he said.

"Some of our players have played Under-20s and when they do that, they're not only playing against Under-20s, they're actually playing against many senior players and the difference in the speed and strength required gets them to rise to the challenge.

"Then, when they come back to play with the 16s, you can see a notable difference.

"They carry over the pace of the game and the speed with which they have to make decisions.

"You can see them becoming more senior players, so getting that exposure is obviously very important for them, but what is most pleasing is how quickly they adapt and retain that when they come back down to play for the 16s."

Colic went on to point out that the upward flow-through from the Under-16s is facilitated by the familiar presence of both himself and PGFC Academy Technical Director, Steven McGarry.

"It's really good the way Stevie is involved with all the age-groups," he said, "because it means that when they step up to the 18s, they already know him and it's not foreign for them.

"I do my best by being present as much as I can and liaising with Stevie regarding some of the training sessions and the games as well, so that we make sure that the information we're giving them is consistent.

"We want to make sure they feel that they can rely on any one of the coaches from the Academy to give them true and consistent information which will help them develop."

At a personal level, meanwhile, Colic is relishing what is his first season with the club.

"It's been really enjoyable," he said.

"I'd spent most of the last few years coaching at a senior level, 18s or higher, so moving into a younger level was a little bit different for me and I didn't quite know what to expect.

"But I'm enjoying it a lot and I've actually had the privilege of being involved with the more senior teams a little bit as well with the Under-16s stepping up quite a lot.

"That's given me an opportunity to see how they transition from that junior Academy level into the more senior teams and it's been really good for me.

"My Assistant Coach Guy McDonald has been fantastic and I think we work really well together.

"He's brought a lot of knowledge having played at senior level very recently and so he definitely knows what it takes to play at that level.

"That sort of experience is great for him to pass  on to the players.

"With the amount of sessions we have to deliver and especially with me doing a little bit more with the 18s, it's worked really well as he's had an opportunity at least once a week to design and deliver sessions himself which is really good for his development.

"It's also great for the players to have more than one voice at training sessions."

So with top spot in their division already secured, what else would constitute success for the Under-16 group this year?

"Ensuring top spot was our first target as it gives us an opportunity to play against what are the best teams in the State when the competition splits up into its next stage," Colic explained.

"Step two is to compete against those teams and as always, to win games and do as well as we can.

"I don't see any reason why the players shouldn't  challenge themselves to essentially finish top of that league.

"So those are the targets in terms of results.

"But ultimately, with so many players already stepping up to the 18s, the primary aim come the end of the season is to ensure that as many players as possible have developed enough to warrant a place within the Academy system for next year."

#OneGlory