Sydney FC star Luke Wilkshire has praised the new partnership between his club and Illawarra Sports High for providing junior footballers with clear pathways to the sport’s professional level.
The Albion Park junior was forced to travel to Sydney as a junior in order to pursue his dream of playing the sport for a living. He eventually moved to the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra before tavelling to the United Kingdom to become a member of the Middlesbrough youth system.
However, opportunities such as this partnership represent a much clearer path to the top for the region’s juniors. The partnership sees Illawarra Sports High join three other sports schools across the state as members of Sydney FC’s network of football schools.
“When I was growing up I was playing locally but also travelling to the NSW Institute of Sport in Sydney, so to have a football program like this in the Illawarra region now is absolutely fantastic.” Wilkshire said.
“It gives young footballers in the region a much better pathway and chance at progression to the professional game and a lot more opportunities.
“For Sydney FC and their Academy to be entering into a partnership with a school in the south coast region is a huge boost for the countless kids who love football in the area.”
One of the last remaining members of the Socceroos golden generation, Wilkshire has returned to Sydney after plying his trade in the top leagues of Europe. He spent eight years across two stints at Dynamo Moscow on top of spells in the English Premier League and Eredivisie, the top Dutch league.
Students at Illawarra Sports High are excited about the partnership, which will provide them with access to the Sydney FC coaching system and elite development pathways.
“It’s a good opportunity for all the people that go to our school and I really think that everybody will get a lot out of this.” Illawarra Sports High student Sienna Humphrey said. “It will help me get better as a player and hopefully I’ll learn more about football.”