Australia's best youth to vie for 'Nick Rizzo cup'

The best young academy footballers across Australia, trained by former A-League stars Nick Rizzo, Zenon Caravela, Cassio, and Pedj Bojic will compete in a tournament at Lambert Park, Sydney over the next two days.

The tournament is the brain child of former ex-Liverpool winger Rizzo and the Academy Cup which carries his name will feature youngsters aged 8 to 12.

The sons of former Socceroos Paul Okon, Ante Milicic and David Zdrillic will feature along with youngsters from Cassio’s Academy in South Australia and kids from the Zenon Carevalla Academy who have made the trek from Cairns. 

Glen and Jason Trifiro's FutbolTec academy players represent Western Sydney while former Central Coast and Sydney FC full back Ped Bojic and Rizzo’s juniors hail from the East of Sydney.

 “It’s a great little competition to come down to,” said Caravella.

“We did something very similar with the players a few months back and we had similar teams involved and it was fantastic experience for these young kids and they’re are all very excited as you can imagine.

 “You are giving these kids a chance to test themselves against arguably the best players in the state and some of these players will hopefully become players that can crack it in into an A-League first team.

“You are talking about the best players in Sydney for their age and the state, so for us it’s great to be able to have this kind of exposure and give these kids the opportunity to test themselves against each other. We’ve got some fantastic players in North Queensland some brilliant little young players and it’s about testing themselves against the players from all around Australia.” 

Through his contacts in England Rizzo has also organised a scout from Everton to come and see the kids in action.

“That’s another massive thing,” said Caravella

“For them to come out and see what talent there is in Australia especially at this young age it puts these kids on the map. They are still young but they are getting earmarked all the time and I’m sure people will come out and follow some these kids progress throughout the years.”

Meanwhile former Central Coast Mariners player Glen Trifiro - who has run his academy for eight years - revealed that one of the Matildas rising stars, as well as a number of up and coming A-League players spent time developing their skills at FutbolTec from a young age.

“Ellie Carpenter has just become the youngest Olympian, she came to us four or five years ago,” he said.

“We worked on her, she had a really great mindset. We worked really closely with her to build the side of the game that she wasn’t great at. She was really great physically but she really needed to work on things with her feet and herself with the ball and her confidence on the ball ,so she is an amazing success story for us. 

Trifiro added: “Then you've got Joeys Captain at the World Cup Joey Calleti who is at Brisbane Roar, also Devante Clut and Radovan Pavicevic from Newcastle Jets. 

"So there have been a fair few that have come through, we have managed to create an environment for these kids to push on and breakthrough.”

  • Con Stamocostas is an Australian football writer. Click here to see more of his work and check out the latest episode of his A-League Snobcast with co-host Rob Toddler.