Belconnen United under 12s Shandon Whitehead, Yahya Djomani-Ousmaned, Corey Smith, Leon Michl and Nikola Jadric. Photo: Melissa Adams
With a free trip to Europe at stake as first prize, you'd assume the only thing on the coach's mind leading into a national tournament was tactics. Not when you're coaching under-12 soccer.
Belconnen United's under-12 Premier League side has been chosen as one of 20 from around the country to compete in a junior event in Sydney this weekend, the winner earning the right to represent Australia at the World Junior Masters in Italy next year.
But coach Tom Jadric said keeping his group of excitable young footballers focused would be half the battle.
''The boys are all staying in dormitory-style accommodation so getting them to go to sleep of a night time will be a struggle,'' he said. ''It'll certainly be a challenging couple of days for myself and the other coaching staff.''
The tournament's unique qualification format required teams to submit a seven minute highlight-reel showcasing the players' abilities on the field.
Despite the enthusiasm, Jadric was quick to acknowledge the quality of their opposition.
Jadric couldn't hide his excitement about what potentially lay ahead.
''There's no doubt we're in for a battle,'' he said. ''I've done a bit of research on the opposition and the majority of the teams competing have all won their respective leagues, where as we came second this year. But we'll give it our best and see how we go.
''The reward is priceless, really. A free trip to go and represent your country, at any level, is just a fantastic incentive.
''I've been trying my best to keep a lid on things because, obviously, all the boys are really excited.''