It’s been a strange year, 2016. In many ways, for many people and places around the world; and also for the Northern Fury community.
On the one hand, it’s been disappointing in terms of the NPL competition.
On the other hand, we are starting to make real inroads in terms of our high performance and youth development programs.
A lot of the credit for this should go to Bill and Ken Mitchell, but also the kids themselves and their parents who are there to support young players.
It’s important for any sporting club to have the capacity to recognise young players who can aspire to play at higher levels. Obviously, it’s great for individuals that they should play at the highest level they want to, and are able to. But it’s also a vital part of building the club into what we want it to be. By shaping young players into having the requisite skill levels, the right level of game awareness and making the right decisions, young players become the NPL players of the future if they continue to be nurtured the right way.
There’s still a long way to go, but I am much happier today with where we are with youth development than where we were three years ago when I took over.
As well as always enjoying the game – as that is critical in my view – the kids are showing more determination and working harder at every training session. This is why so many have them have got themselves into great positions for national, state or schools elite level teams.
Eventually, this success will translate to our NPL squad also.
With five games to go for this NPL season, the challenge is for the lads to take what we do at training on to the park on game day. When they play like they train, they look good. More compact; working as a unit. To do that, every player needs to be a leader and take responsibility to do his job right and to support team mates to do so also.
We’ve got two more home games: against Brisbane Roar Youth team on 30th July and Brisbane Strikers on 13th August. Then we have a wonderful opportunity again to play an A-League side. Remember what happened last time we welcomed A-League clubs to Townsville in 2014? Braedyn Crowley was invited to join Newcastle Jets National Youth League team, and he's now part of their A-Leauge squad.
Our match against Melbourne City – which contains players such as Thomas Sorensen, Neil Kilkenny, Bruno Fornaroli and Luke Brattan and is rumoured to have a VERY BIG name signing soon – is on 7th September. (Tickets are on sale now, as well as for Melbourne City v Wellington Phoenix on 11th September).
In the meantime, congratulations to all young Fury players and thanks for your hard work. Keep investing in yourself! Regardless of what you choose to do, it pays.
Ian Ferguson is Director of Coaching of Northern Fury FC and Head Coach of the NPL team. He has previously coached Perth Glory and the former NQ Fury in the A-League. His playing career spanned 18 years, mostly with Rangers in the Scottish Premier League. He was capped nine times for Scotland.