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Canberra teens gear up to impress soccer scouts

Ridwan Hannan, 15, and Ross Costanzo, 15.

Ridwan Hannan, 15, and Ross Costanzo, 15. Photo: Jeffrey Chan

Canberra teenager Ridwan Hannan has the same dream as every other player at the National Institute Challenge - earn a spot at the AIS and take another step towards becoming a professional.

The best under-15 soccer talent in Australia, along with the country's most influential coaches, will converge on the AIS for the annual tournament starting on Monday.

Football Federation Australia technical director Han Berger, Young Socceroos coach Aurelio Vidmar, and Australian under-17 Joeys and AIS mentor Tony Vidmar will be among those casting an eye over the next generation.

Hannan is hoping to catch their attention with strong performances for the ACT Academy of Sport (ACTAS). The 15-year-old full-back has played in two national championships at under-13 and under-14 level and knows how important this tournament is for his future.

''As a team, winning the tournament would be the absolute best thing to come out of it,'' Hannan said. ''Individually, it's about gaining selection into bigger things, like the AIS and Joeys.

''There's a lot of excitement and a lot of pressure.''

Teams representing NSW, Queensland, South Australia, Northern Territory, Tasmania, Football West, Victoria and the Emerging Jets will face a busy eight-game schedule in the next five days.

The ACTAS squad has played more than 50 games since February, including matches with the Joeys, the Young Matildas and two international tours. ACTAS coach Pat McCann said that gave his squad the perfect preparation to put its best foot forward.

''It's the last link in the chain for our guys in terms of identification into the AIS, and also the Joeys,'' McCann said. ''So for all national training centres, it's an important occasion, and certainly a great place to exhibit what you could do.''

Along with winning, teams that most closely follow the playing style of the FFA national curriculum are awarded points.

''It's basically putting together the mentality of Australian players with the most effective type of football in regards to current trends,'' McCann said.

''It's all about effective possession, being as proactive as you can, playing at a really high pace, and completing a lot of passes in forward areas of the pitch.''

ACTAS will kick off its tournament on Monday with games against Tasmania at 9am and the Emerging Jets at 4.30pm.

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