Phoenix staff talent-spotting at national tournament

Phoenix youth development coaching staff will be have their eyes firmly fixed on the national age-grade tournament this weekend.

The Wellington Phoenix coaching staff in charge of youth development  will be have their eyes firmly fixed on the national age-grade tournament being staged in the Hutt Valley from Saturday to Wednesday.

Head of youth development and reserve team coach Andy Hedge says it is a fantastic opportunity for himself, assistant coach Valerio Racculgia and newly-appointed Phoenix Academy head coach Paul Temple to run their eyes over New Zealand’s best 15 and 16-year-old boys in a competitive situation.

“When you look at the current Phoenix squad Louis Fenton, Alex Rufer, Matt Ridenton, Tom Doyle and Justin Gulley are all graduates from the club’s Football School of Excellence and they came through the national age-grade tournaments,” Hedge said.

“It is a great opportunity to see all the top kids from throughout the country in one place playing against each other.”

Hedge said Temple, who joins the Academy full time next month, Racculgia and himself had a meeting with head coach Ernie Merrick to ensure everyone was on the same wavelength.

“We are re-shaping the Academy to make sure we are heading in ‘the Phoenix Way’,” he said.

“The club is definitely on the right track with its youth programme, but we are still searching for the best kids in the country who will hopefully join us.”

The tournament will be held at Petone Memorial Park, Fraser Park and Maidstone Park from Saturday December 12 till Wednesday December 16.