THREE Patterson River Secondary College students are all aspiring to reach high levels in the world of football – or, as it is better known in Australia – soccer.
Brandon Smith, 17, is on track to become one of the youngest A-League referees in the country. He has officiated at soccer matches since he was 11 years old. So far, the Year 12 student has overseen club matches, NPL, and even occasional Youth National League games – which are just one level below A-League.
The only thing stopping him officiating in the top level is his age.
“You have to be 18 to even be considered for an official position in A-League. I can’t wait to get to that magic number,” Smith said.
Chelsea Ford, 14, has just been selected to play in the Victorian State Futsal Team. She is looking forward to playing in Sydney in January in a national championship. Patterson River’s Futsal competition is in its seventh year. It has built up over the years and this has given Ford – who is in Year 9 – a good foundation to apply her skills in a competitive environment.
She is the only girl to compete in the boys’ competition and was voted by her peers as the most improved player in the competition.
Mitchell Ball, 18, is a diehard soccer fanatic. He plays for Skye United Reserves and has managed young teams, including Under 8s, 10s and 12s. He is also the team manager for the Under 18s, along with being part of the club committee. The club has also given him the responsibility of starting a youth committee of which he is president.
Ball, in Year 12, is going to the UK in January to see how top flight clubs manage teams and coaching. Great opportunities like this are hardly ever offered to students, so Ball is super excited to be part of it all. He will travel to the Lancashire region to work with the coaches of Premier League Club Stoke City, Burnley FC and Bolton.
He is also involved in a partnership with Lancashire FA to learn the administration side of managing a soccer club. Nathan Peel, owner of Absolute Soccer, who played for Burnley, managed to get Ball onto this great opportunity.
Teacher Pravi Chandra, who has taken Ball under his wing, said: “He is an exceptional soccer player and his management skills are amazing.
“Mitchell has coached and managed the senior boys’ soccer team for the past two years and he has managed to take them to within a goal of state finals both times. He has shown outstanding management skills and knows how to communicate well with the kids.”
Achievements by the three students show that soccer is growing in this area and the school has done an exceptional job in encouraging them to not only chase their dreams, but to achieve them as well, school principal Janet Mitchell said.