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FFA Centre of Excellence players Fletcher, Trewin think big for the future

They may be young, but Canberra kids James Fletcher and Tai Trewin are thinking big when it comes to future ambitions.

The two soccer players are the only Canberrans named in Football Federation Australia's Centre of Excellence under 16/17 squad.

Aimed at developing young players in future stars, Fletcher and Trewin will have every opportunity to fulfil their dreams.

"I'd love to go overseas first," Fletcher said. "I don't really mind [where] to be honest. I'd love to go to Arsenal, I go for Arsenal."

Trewin didn't name a team: "A professional contract with [any] club," he said. "I like Western Sydney."

The Centre of Excellence is designed to introduce athletes to a higher level of competition and harden the team against opponents who are of a higher calibre than any they will previously have faced.


The prospect of coaching boys so young is a unique challenge, according to technical director Peter de Roo. He knows the boys will not only be working to improve their soccer skills but also dealing with a formative period in their lives.

"I think coaching young players is much more difficult," de Roo said.

"You need to create a learning environment. You need to make sure that things are not being too directive, they need to do things because they understand why they do it.

"You need to create situations where it's okay to make mistakes, because you need to make mistakes to learn."

The Centre of Excellence's first fixture is against Trewin and Fletcher's former club, the Canberra United Academy.

The pair are well aware of the impact that the Centre of Excellence has had on soccer in Canberra.

"It's given us more to aim for in Australia, rather than having to go interstate and go overseas to find football for us," Fletcher said. "Now we've got Canberra United and this [the Centre of Excellence] both here, it's really, really good."

De Roo shares the boys' enthusiasm, recalling the days when there were almost no Canberra-based players making their way through the ranks of Australian soccer.

"There used to be hardly any Canberra players in the Centre of Excellence," de Roo recalls. "The last two intakes had more and more Canberra boys.

"I think the 10 years before that there was maybe one."