Kresic backs CU Academy to expose young talent to A-League clubs

Canberra FC product Niko Kresic insists the Canberra United Academy is crucial to give ACT talent a chance to expose themselves to A-League and hopes National Premier League clubs will see the big picture. 

Kresic is one of 28 under-19 players who completed a three-day training camp on Wednesday, and the 18-year-old believes the initiative is the best way for the players to get their names up in lights. 

Canberra United Academy training session for the upcoming National Premier League competition.
Canberra United Academy training session for the upcoming National Premier League competition. Photo: Graham Tidy

The team will compete in this year's National Premier League, and the academy has attracted some resistance from existing NPL clubs. 

But Kresic feels training with youngsters of similar ability is the best way to progress their game. 

"In the end it's what's best for the players, hopefully the clubs can understand it," he said. 

"It's good to get us in the shop window, the A-League clubs will get to see us better because we don't have a team here. 


"This is our only opportunity if we stay in Canberra to get scouted, otherwise we have to move."

Canberra United Academy technical director Warren Grieve said they made a point of unsettling the rosters of NPL teams. 

"We've been very mindful throughout the selection process to try not to disrupt the NPL clubs with selecting players who are already playing first grade football," he said. 

"We've got development squads, both male and female, from the age of under ten to senior teams now. 

"We're fortunate enough to have the fully integrated pathway with the [Canberra United] W-League side, but the last piece of the puzzle was to get this team into the local NPL. 

"It demonstrates to Football Federation Australia our serious intent to be an A-League academy. 

"We're not looking to steal players, all we're looking to do is develop players. We have an obligation in the absence of an A-League club to provide that academy structure."

The CU Academy NPL team will form the bulk of the Canberra United FC team that is expected to play in a revamped 2016-17 National Youth League competition.

"That's always been the intention, but you need to be able to demonstrate you have the structure and that was the main reason behind the push for these boys to be in the NPL. 

"There'll be a review from FFA which hopefully will look at NYL expansion and if that happens, we should be in the driving seat to receive one of those positions for 2016-17."

Canberra United Academy men's assistant technical director Pat McCann wants to make the academy the benchmark in Australia. 

"The challenge for us is to produce a world class football environment, we've made it clear we want to be the no.1 academy in the country," McCann said. 

"There'll be an element of trial and error and we'll review it at the end of the year."