Foxtel National Youth League Head Coach Joe Palatsides said witnessing his youth team graduates make an impact for the Club's Hyundai A-League team has been a rewarding experience.
Leading the Club’s youth team for a fourth consecutive season, Palatsides has overseen a number of youth players make a successful transition to first-team action during his tenure, with Wade Dekker, Hernan Espindola, Matthew Millar and Stefan Zinni all featuring regularly for John van’t Schip’s side this campaign.
Young prospects Ali Eyigun and Jordan Hall have also gained first-team experience during pre-season and in training, with Palatsides expressing his pride at seeing the Club’s youngsters grasp their first-team opportunities with both hands.
“It’s very rewarding, I’m like a proud father for most of them,” Palatsides said. “Seeing Wadey Dekker and Hernan Espindola play in the first game of the year (against Sydney FC) and Wadey scoring, I don’t think I’ve yelled for a goal for such a long time.”
“When we look at the next batch coming through for this year, we see Stefan [Zinni] has had a taste of it. We know Ali [Eyigun] is going to be involved for the most part along with Matty Millar and Jordy Hall, who was the 17th man.
"They’re very exciting to watch and in moments they can turn the game at the drop of a hat, but we really need to get more consistency in all these young boys to make sure they can help John van’t Schip in the year ahead.
“It’s an exciting time for this football club. We take a lot of credit but it’s also the senior coaches who deserve the credit because they’re the ones who are determined to give them the opportunities to perform on the big stage.”
City began its defence of the Foxtel National Youth League title with a hard-fought 1-1 draw against Perth Glory at CB Smith Reserve, with Christopher Cristaldo netting his first competitive goal for the Club with a well-timed finish in the 3rd minute.
Despite dominating play for majority of the encounter, Palatsides acknowledged his players need to utilise their senior experience to take control of matches at youth level.
“When we go out we want to win, but we know that it’s not all about winning, it’s about developing these young players,” he said. “We’ve been fortunate that a lot of our young players have tasted first team football this year.”
“Having tasted first team football, we really want them to dominate the youth games. We were patchy for the most part in this opener. We controlled it for some parts but other parts we just fell away and lost concentration.
“We just need to put in a consistent performance over 90 minutes. I thought in patches we were really good. It’s just our front third we have to take the next step and penetrate at the right time."
Melbourne City FC continue their Foxtel National Youth League Campaign against Adelaide United at CB Smith Reserve on Sunday 22 November, in a double header with the Club's W-League team.