Central Coast Mariners have announced the establishment of a first-ever A-League scouting network which was officially formalised on Friday.
The Mariners' Scouting Network is the first of its kind in the A-League and will feature five scouts with specific regions of responsibility.
The first five scouts employed by the Mariners are Bob Naumov (Northern NSW), Steve Kelly (Metro Sydney – South & Inner West), Craig Midgely (Metro Sydney – North & East), Luke Roodenburg (Metro Sydney – West), and former Mariners player Adam Kwasnik (Central Coast).
Central Coast have produced a number of Australia's best young footballers, including Mat Ryan (Club Brugge), Trent Sainsbury (PEC Zwolle), Mustafa Amini (BVB Borussia Dortmund), Bernie Ibini (Sydney FC), as well as Mitchell Duke and Anthony Caceres (Central Coast Mariners) just some of the players to have progressed through the club’s youth set-up.
According to the Mariners media release, the network was established "to ensure that Central Coast continually signs talent not only with the ability to progress to its first team squad, but to represent Australia’s national teams at all levels."
"We are continually looking to evolve and improve the way we identify players and bring them into our system,” Central Coast Mariners head coach, Phil Moss, said.
“We believe that the establishment of our Scouting Network is a major step forward for the Mariners, as it guarantees that we will have more eyes on more players at more matches across the state and around the country.”
“Young players have always, and will always, be central to the plans of the Central Coast Mariners,” he said.
“We want to be, or even remain, the club that every young footballer in Australia wants to be at thanks to a combination of the system, facilities, professionalism, and opportunities we provide.”
The structure will be primarily overseen by the Mariners’ recently appointed Head of Youth Football, Stu Jacobs.
Jacobs linked with the Mariners in July this year having previously served as Head Coach of New Zealand’s U23 and U20 national teams, as well as an assistant coach at Wellington Phoenix – among a variety of other roles.
Jacobs said that each scout will assess players in their region based on a number of factors identified as key by the club’s football and management staff. Scouts will provide monthly updates on identified players, before Jacobs himself sights, reviews, then trials the most promising prospects.
“Our player assessment process covers numerous aspects including tactical awareness, technique under pressure, physical capacity, and last but certainly not least, personality,” Jacobs said.
“In keeping with the Mariners’ culture, every player our scouts consider will ultimately have the very best interests of the team they are playing for at heart.”
“Our scouts will be at NPL matches, national representative games and tournaments, Australian Institute of Sport training camps and matches, as well as regional and schoolboy representative trials."
The Mariners are ranked 133rd in the The 2014 International Centre for Sports Studies (CIES) Football Observatory report, which "takes into account the number of World Cup participants trained per club, as well as the number of league matches played by footballers per team up to the age of 23,” Mariners CEO Bruce Stalder explained.
“We were ranked 133rd, just behind clubs such as Juventus (Italy), Napoli (Italy), and FC Nürnberg (Germany), and just ahead of clubs including Fluminense (Brazil), Athletic Bilbao (Spain), and Inter Milan (Italy).”
“Part of our aim with our new Scouting Network is to push into the top 100 in the player development rankings for Russia 2018,” he said.
According to the CIES Football Observatory report, Central Coast Mariners were the top performing A-League club in regards to player development at Brazil 2014, with Brisbane Roar the second of the Australian clubs in 190th.
Sydney United and Brisbane Strikers make up the other Australian clubs in the top 300.
The full report can be viewed here.