by Ebru Efe

Victoria had a massive week at the National Youth Championships for boys. Two U13 and three U14 squads of talented young athletes travelled to Coffs Harbour last week, to represent Victoria and showcase their abilities on the national stage. Each squad of 17 was supported by a physiotherapist for the duration of the week, ensuring the athletes were ready to perform at their best in 8 matches across 5 days. I was fortunate to work with the U13 Metro squad, while my colleague Semih Taflan worked with the U14 Country squad. 

Each team’s physiotherapist was responsible for the management of new and current injuries, in addition to completing mobility sessions, pre-activation exercises, injury prevention warm ups and pool recovery sessions. The boys were taught to establish recovery strategies and care for their bodies, a vital component of competing in an elite tournament. Soreness, fatigue levels, hydration and sleep were all monitored across the week through regular check-ins with each individual player, guiding injury and load management across the week via discussion with the coaching staff. 

Victoria dominated the group stages, with 4 out of 5 teams topping their respective groups. Travelling into playoffs, the U13 Metro and U13 Country squads found each other in a battle for the national title, with my U13 Metro boys coming out as U13 National Champions. In the U14 age group, the U14 Metro Blue squad claimed second place and the U14 Metro White squad third, falling just short to Western Australia. The U13 Metro boys continued on to defeat Brisbane Roar’s U13 squad 5-2 in an exhibition match on the final day. To finish a successful week, U13 Metro player Oscar Tanic was named U13 Player of the Tournament, while U13 Metro player Daniel Graskoski was named U13 Goalkeeper of the Tournament. 

It was an incredible experience being part of such an exciting and rewarding week. The success achieved by each squad is credit for the hard work they put in throughout the year in preparation, alongside their efforts to care for their bodies and prepare themselves as best they could for each match. I look forward to working with and following these young stars in the future.