Perth Glory Youngsters rewarded for outstanding NPL season

After a season full of positives in the PS4 National Premier League WA, a number of Perth Glory’s talented youngsters were rewarded at the Football West McInerney Ford Gold Medal night at a glittering ceremony at Crown Perth on Saturday evening.

NPL first team striker Stefan Valentini won the Dylan Tombides ‘Young Player of the Year’ Award, after a stellar season that saw the teenager make his senior Perth Glory debut in the FFA Cup.  “It’s a great honour to receive such a prestigious award,” Valentini said.

“I’ve worked hard on my game, but I couldn’t have done it without the support from my teammates, coaches and family, and I can’t wait for next season.”

The 19-year-old bagged seven goals in the PS4 NPLWA last season, and scored in the dramatic penalty shootout win on his senior debut against Newcastle Jets for Kenny Lowe’s side.

Valentini said the Glory youngsters performed well during the season but they didn’t get the results they deserved. “Our position on the ladder last season wasn’t a clear reflection of the way we played, and we finished the season off well,” he explained.

“Going forward into next season we are fortunate to have a lot of the same boys around, so we are starting to really gel, understand how each other play and able to carry out the system the coaches want us to play.

“Personally I’m looking forward to the Foxtel National Youth League and continue to work hard and improve my game,

In other awards on the night Abias Bukuru won the PS4 NPL WA Under 18 ‘Troy Bernard Player of the Year’, while Alexander Tanevski won the NPL under 20’s Golden Boot after scoring 23 goals.

Glory NPL senior Coach John Gibson said it’s a just reward for Valentini’s hard work. “I’m really pleased for young Stef. He has worked hard on his game this season and to win the ‘NPL Young Player of the Year’ is a great reward for him,” Gibson said.

“It’s great to see a player within the program winning such a major award in WA football, and it makes all the players hard work worthwhile - also congratulations to Alex (Taneski) (U20) and Abias (Bukuri ) (U18) who also won awards in their respective leagues.”

Gibson said the young forward took his chance when given the opportunity early in the season. “Stef took his opportunity at the start of the season; after we lost leading NYL striker Joe Knowles early due to a foot injury, and Stef and Nikola Talimdzioski formed a great partnership and both went on to have fantastic seasons,” he said.

“We were all really pleased with Stef’s improvement, and he is very aware of how much more he needs to improve and get better."