Coach Wilkshire expects team to rise to challenge
After nearly a month of intensive training, a University of Wollongong football squad will return to the UniSport Nationals as defending champions.
Head Coach and former Socceroo Luke Wilkshire has selected 18 players from a field of 56 hopefuls who trialled for the team in August.
“I’m impressed, since announcing the extended squad they’ve all been pushed and stood up to the challenge,” Wilkshire said.
“They’re very hungry and they’re definitely going to be very fit.”
Coach Luke Wilkshire observing players at trials in August.
Wilkshire will accompany the team to the Gold Coast, where the competition kicks off on Monday, 30 September.
The squad includes players from a wide spectrum of state and regional competitions including NSW National Premier League, Illawarra Premier League and Illawarra District League.
Attacking duo and twins Marcus and Joel Beattie are looking forward to playing together again after a year of playing in separate leagues; NSW National Premier League 2 and Illawarra Premier League.
Last year the team qualified for the FISU World Cup as Oceania representatives, and the opportunity to play with their mates in China was too good to resist for the Beattie brothers.
“I’ve been involved in the last three or four Uni Games, we’re such good friends here and that keeps us coming back each year,” Marcus said.
“Now the opportunity to go to China is something we’re not going to knock back. Just being exposed to that level of football, playing against teams from all over the world like Germany and Spain is going to be a great experience.”
Pocket rocket forwards Marcus and Joel Beattie are eager to score goals at Nationals. Picture: Rebecca Fist
Having a twin on the field could be advantageous.
“You know what he’s going to do earlier, because we’ve played together for years,” Joel said.
“We can build combinations because I know what sort of runs he’s going to do.”
According to the Beatties, Nationals are becoming more competitive now that international opportunities are emerging.
“The Melbourne unis are always really strong,” Joel said.
“It’s been really good working under Luke Wilkshire, the lads are working really hard, getting really fit and ready for the Gold Coast next week.”
What does Wilkshire expect of the squad?
“I’d like to see them understand the way I want them to play, and I’d like to see a winning mentality. I’ve seen that already, there’s a group of winners here,” he said.
NATIONALS SQUAD: Daniel Farina, Jacob Hufton, Jayden Smileski, James Carli, James Ralston, Jack Harris, Ethan Kambisios, Alexander Rooke, James Stojcevski, Harrison Bagot, Joel Beattie, Marcus Beattie, Nelson McLeod, Joel Starr, Sandy Lowcock, Christian Saffioti, Samuel Lendrum, Christian Saffioti.
FISU WORLD CUP SQUAD: Unchanged except for the addition of Nikola Djordjevic, Luke Kairies and Taylor McDonald.
Masthead photo: Open trials in August at the University of Wollongong.