Wijaya FC are in the midst of setting up under-16 and under-19 teams following the conclusion of trials for both age groups ahead of the upcoming National Football Association of Brunei Darussalam (NFABD) Youth Leagues at the Public Works Department Football Field at Old Airport yesterday.
The local club, whose senior team competes in the Brunei Super League, have attracted a strong turnout during the first phase of the trial last Friday and the second phase of the trial saw players returning to try and secure a berth.
With both trials running concurrently, the final phase witnessed a filtering process to determine selection of the final squad, which will be announced in due course.
“There are many talented players that came out and it is quite difficult to choose. We have specified targets including 30 people for the under-19 team and 28 for the under-16 team,” said Mahdini bin Haji Mohamad, a member of the Wijaya coaching team said.
Asked what were the criteria to make the team, the coach said that talent, their willingness, discipline and attendance have been looked at as part of the selection process. He said, “Even if they have talent, but there is an absence in attendance and willingness, it will be difficult.”
The coach added that the player who already knows how to play football will be further groomed in terms of developing his game. In determining the number of various playing positions in the team, there is also a good balance of the variety of players in accordance to the needs of the squad.
“Before this, Wijaya have never held any selection for the under-16 and the under-19 teams. We only have the senior team. With the availability of these teams, players who have the talent in the under-19 team will be taken to the senior team or an under-16 player stepping up to the under-19 team.”
The need to establish the under-16 and the under-19 teams has been made in compliance with NFABD requirements, whereby each club should have one under-16 and under-19 team. The move towards introducing an age-group side is to fulfil the club’s licencing requirements, which is essential for any club who will represent the country in a continental competition.
Mahdini also sees the establishment of an under-16 and under-19 team as the club’s project of producing talent.
“In the future, we will find players from the under-16 and the under-19 teams. We don’t have to look far.”
The club have also recognised a 17-year-old talent, who has pushed his way to the senior team having considered good enough to play at a higher level. “We saw the player when he was on trial with us and we found out that he was 17. The way he played was like someone who plays for the senior team,” the coach added.
He also said the player will be eligible to participate in both the Brunei Super League and the NFABD Under-19 Youth League competitions adding that he could help his teammates emulate his footsteps to play in the senior team.
The coach also expressed hopes and plans to establish an under-12 and the under-10 teams in the future will materialise.
The next step for the club once the squad selection has been confirmed is to hold the first training session for the selected under-16 and the under-19 teams. The first training session for the under-19 team will also see the new players being taken under the wing of their new coaches, who are currently attending a course.