Under the microscope

MELBOURNE Heart youth team scouts will cast their eye on a practice match between Churchill United and a Gippsland youth trial squad on Sunday.

From the Gippsland Soccer League-endorsed talent identification session, to be held at Harold Preston Reserve, Traralgon, Heart will select one player from the Gippsland squad to participate in trials for the A-League team’s national youth league squad.

“This is a huge opportunity for the kids to perform in front of representatives from an A-League club,” zone development officer Mark Cassar said.

“They will be looking at one of our players to take with them to the next stage of their trials.

“It opens up not just this opportunity but other opportunities for kids to take a step in the right direction and hopeful get not just Melbourne Heart, but other A-League clubs and W-League teams to come down and have a look at our players.”

Cassar said leading up to Sunday’s talent identification session, pre-trials were conducted with the assistance of other coaches to select the final numbers for the Gippsland team.

About 80 invitations, targeted towards 17 to 20 year-olds, were sent to Gippsland’s finest youth soccer players to attend to the pre-trial training at Latrobe City Sports Stadium.

“We initially had two separate pre-trials, one for the 17 to 18 year-olds and another for the 19 to 20 year-olds before combing the two for the third session.

“The final squad is still to be finalised.”

Cassar said he hoped this trial opportunity presented by the A-League club would eventually extend towards female participants.

“This is something that can hopefully be transferred to the girls and it would be good for the region all round,” he said.

“It’s good for football, and in light of the World Cup around the corner, for us in Gippsland.

“This is good for the game and its awareness and growth.”

The Gippsland youth squad will face Churchill United at Harold Preston Reserve, home of Traralgon Olympians, on Sunday from 4pm; entry is free.