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Jacob Italiano dreaming of professional career after FFA Centre of Excellence

Fifteen-year-old Jacob Italiano is daring to dream of a career as a professional soccer player, despite the FFA Centre of Excellence controversially closing in August.

He may be young, but he's setting his sights high when it comes to his future after an impressive season playing for the program in Canberra's premier league.

With the Centre shutting down, this will be his final season to impress in the program, with their next assignment against Belconnen United at McKellar Park on Saturday.

"The goal is to get a professional contract," Italiano said.

"I came to the Centre of Excellence because I thought it would be the best path for me to make a career out of football."

The West-Australian winger was unsure where his career would take him to next, but Centre head-coach Tony Vidmar was confident he has the tools to make it to the next level.


"I'm confident he'll go to an A-League club," Vidmar said.

"He's one of the players that came in with a purpose, he knows what he wants to do.

"You can see that he's driven and wants to be better than he was the session before."

Vidmar, who make 79 appearances for the Socceroos, feared the closure of the Centre of Excellence would mean young talent like Italiano would slip through the cracks.

The Centre has been running since 1981, but the FFA has decided to shift the development pathway through A-League academies rather than retain their long-standing base at the AIS.

The decision's come under fire from many with many of the academies being unprepared.

"If Jacob didn't come through the [Centre of Excellence] program I don't think we would have ever seen the best of him," said Vidmar

"This is why this place has been in existence for so long because this is a place you get expert coaching the best facilities and the best performance managers around that help the players individually."

The FFA made the controversial decision to close the Centre of Excellence at the end of the current National Premier League season, cutting a number of player's scholarships short.

Italiano's one of those players and is partway through a two-year scholarship.

Like the rest of his teammates, he goes to school at Lake Ginninderra.

He represented the Joeys, Australia's under-17s team, at the AFC under-16 championships in India last year.

"Since the program is coming to an end, I'm more motivated to ensure that I'm improving. I want to improve every week." Italiano said.

"The amount of players that have come through and done well speaks volumes of the program. I know I'm best prepared for the next step up."


Saturday: Woden Weston v Cooma Tigers at Woden Park Enclosed, 3pm; Belconnen United v FFA Centre of Excellence at McKellar Park, 5.30pm.

Sunday: Canberra FC v Gungahlin United at Deakin Stadium, 3pm.


Saturday: Tuggeranong United v Riverina Rhinos at Greenway Oval, 6pm.