FFA’s Head of National Performance Luke Casserly says having young players from both the Hyundai A-League and Westfield W-League involved in the NAB Young Footballer of the Year for the first time brings a new excitement to both competitions season.
“Everyone gets excited. Especially everyone involved in the national technical department with the talent of young players male and female coming through.
“I’ve recently been up to the youth nationals in Coffs Harbour and some of the kids were very exciting, and when they get a run in the top league I think everybody – coaches, fans – we all get excited when young stars come through.
“And the W-League has become important on so many fronts. The Matildas captured the nation’s hearts in the World Cup and the W-League provides an excellent platform. Not every developed football country has a quality league for female players and for young girls to aspire to play in the W-League is great.”
There’s been some exceptional talent claim the NAB award in the past, from two-time winner Mat Ryan (currently playing for Valencia in La Liga) to Socceroos duo Tommy Oar and Adam Taggart.
Who will be the next young gun to emerge from both our elite men’s and women’s leagues?
There will be an expert panel of judges to select the monthly nominee, while a new stats analysis each week will add to the conversation.
Casserly, along with FFA National Technical Director Eric Abrams, are two of the experts on the panel.
Last season the award was won by Jimmy Jeggo. The classy midfielder enjoyed a breakout season at the Reds, taking his game to a new level under Spanish coach Josep Gombau.
Statistics will help judge the players but stats are not the be-all and end-all in judging quality of player, argues Casserly, himself a former Socceroo.
“To me, stats are just that. They are stats. For example, a player might have fantastic passing stats but if he’s a midfielder or a number 10 and those passes are mostly sideways and back, which never hurt the opposition, then is the player really effective.
“So there are qualities that a player can bring to a team outside of his or her statistical data.”