Six to take the next step

Melbourne Heart has selected six Gippsland players to take part in the next phase of a youth talent identification program run by the A-League team.

Jacob Richardson, Tommy Nguyen, Carl Tai, Oscar Cini, Mark Bruzzese and John Kuol were the six chosen from a Melbourne Heart talent identification session held in Traralgon last week.

They will join other potential Melbourne Heart youth players at a skills session run by Heart youth head coach Joe Palatsides at Epping Stadium, Melbourne.

Gippsland zone development coordinator Mark Cassar said the selection of so many players was a major boost for Gippsland soccer.

“We’ve always known there have been many talented players here and for Melbourne Heart to recognise that in the short time frame we had to put this together was great,” Cassar said.

“For that to happen we were really rapt, it was just great for them to identify those numbers.

“To be honest, there were a few others (who had the skills) that did not make the final selection, but Palatsides was still impressed with the younger boys not selected.”

The six Gippsland players will join other regional youths from areas including Bendigo, Geelong and Shepparton at the Melbourne-based skills session, which Cassar said would primarily focus on the players’ technical aspects.

“From this session they will select who they feel are best to go and join their main group of Melbourne Heart youth players; but whether or not they get signed is still too far away to say,” he said.

Cassar said the initial identification session held at Harold Preston Reserve included a crop of youth players from central, south and east Gippsland.

He said Palatsides was impressed by all the players involved in the initial talent identification session, and he indicated that this process could be “on-going”, but Cassar said he was not sure in what capacity.

“Hopefully the players selected get further opportunities,” he said.