Burnley's boys from Down Under
The Clarets set up a School of Excellence in Western Australia in 2011 and in November launched Burnley FC Academy Australasia, which is linked with Perth’s Balcatta Soccer Club. Paul Wozny operates as the club’s Head of Youth Australasia.
Burnley currently has four Australian youngsters on their books living their football dreams, Callum Richardson and Brandon Wilson from WA, and Kevin Ly and Daniel Nizic from NSW, while the the Burnley first-team boasts Tasmanian and former Young Socceroo goalkeeper Alex Cisak as the back-up to Tom Heaton.
In the past, the club has had Socceroo Rhys Williams on loan and Williams’s younger brother Aryn spent several years at Turf Moor.
Richardson, Wilson and Ly all play for Burnley’s Under-18s. Nizic has appeared for the club’s Under-21s and is currently on a one-month loan at Workington.
Pat McKiernan, Burnely’s Head of Academy Education and Welfare, speaks highly of the Clarets’ Aussie quartet.
“I’ve found all the Australian boys extremely mature,” he said. “All have been really well mannered, they have a great attitude. There’s always issues of homesickness, it is extremely hard for them.”
Ly is a Blacktown City junior and NSW Institute of Sport product who hails from western Sydney. The 17-year old, who has played the Joeys and joined Burnley in July 2012, was scouted while playing in Australia.
“When I first came here it was quite hard,” Ly said. “[But] it was always a dream of mine to play in England.”
An attacking or holding midfielder, Ly’s contract at Burnley ends at the end of the current season but he would like to stay with the Clarets, especially with other Aussies in the Under-18s side.
“Of course I want to stay here,” Ly said. “Sometimes you need some other Australians to talk to if you’re homesick or a bit down.”
Partnering Ly in the youth team’s midfield has been 18-year old Wilson. Born in Botswana and raised in England, Wilson moved to Western Australia as a 10-year old. The central midfielder was a member of Leeds United’s academy and had also joined WA’s National Training Centre (NTC) before joining Burnley in July last year on a two-year deal.
“It’s good, I’m enjoying the experience,” he said. “It’s good having some Aussies in the team, you can talk about home.”
Wilson has spent some time with Burnley’s reserves and has recently played against Sunderland and Leeds’ reserves team.
“I’m stoked,” he said. “Leeds basically had their first-team out and I played against El Hadji Diouf. My dream is to play Premier League. That’s the long, long-term goal.
"Short-term goal is to get a professional contract.”
Shoring up at the back of Burnley’s Under-18s is West Australian Richardson. The 18-year old from Bunbury is a centre back who moved to Lancashire at the end of 2012.
“It’s good, it’s obviously a lot different to home but I’ve found you adapt to it over time,” Richardson said.
Richardson came through the WA state team and the NTC under Kenny Lowe, the same as Wilson. The defender is enjoying his time at the club and played in the recent FA Youth Cup 2-0 loss to Manchester United.
“To be fair we were probably the better team but we didn’t take our chances,” Richardson said. “The football is a lot quicker, more intense [than in Australia]. You have to be a lot fitter.”
Like Burnley’s other Aussie kids, Richardson is dreaming big.
“I definitely want to play in the Premier League,” he said. “That’s my ultimate goal.”