Thunder on hunt for NT's best young footballers

NT Thunder Under 18 Men Academy players at training

A comprehensive search to unearth the best football talent available in the Northern Territory has been undertaken by the coaches of the NT Thunder Under 18 Men Academy.

Around 80 players aged between 16 and 19 have been identified from far and wide across the NT to form the Academy’s initial squad, with more to be added following a remote talent camp in Gove next week.

NT Thunder Academy Coach Jason Roe said the talent program would provide young NT footballers with a perfect vehicle to maximise their potential.

“It’s a very exciting time for all young Territory footballers in the Academy space, there is no better opportunity for our talented players to be exposed at the highest level possible and showcase their talent,” Roe said.

“We are searching far and wide across the Territory for talent with the main regions being Darwin, Tiwi, Barkly, Central Australia and Arnhem Land.

“Coaches are putting the players to the test with a number of mental and physical challenges along with some advanced training drills.”

Making the initial squad is the first step to being selected to represent the Under 18 NT Thunder Men’s Academy team that will play seven games in the NAB League series starting in late March.

The side will play games against GWS, Western Jets, Tasmania, Bendigo, Greater Western Victoria, Murray Bushrangers and the Calder Cannons.

A number of these matches will be double-headers alongside the Under 18 NT Thunder Women’s Academy team. 

Talent Pathway Manager Brenton Toy said the Academy program was outlined to players and their families last week during an induction.

“While the program is predominantly about football talent, the underlying theme is about creating better people,” Toy said. 

“The 2020 Academy induction night provided an opportunity for players and parents to gain an understanding of the program direction and revitalised focus on the State/Thunder Academy programs.

“Academy staff outlined their expectations and requirements for developing and maintaining a high-performance environment to give every individual the best chance to be successful.”

The final initial squad for the NT Thunder 18 Academy will be announced early next month following a number of Talent ID games in Gove and the Tiwi Islands, which Toy and NT Thunder Academy staff will attend.

Selected players from remote regions will come together and partake in testing, training drills, education sessions and play a football game against a local NTFL team.