The Wollongong Wolves first grade team may have dominated their rivals in the NSW Men's National Premier League, but one Wolves junior is currently preparing to take on the best from around the world.
Noah Stella was the lone Illawarra junior selected in the Sydney FC Academy School team that will head to South Korea to contest the Gyeongju International Youth Football Tournament later this month.
The 12-year-old admits he's nervous about the prospect of playing teams from around the world, but he's exciting to see how he, and his team, will fare in Gyeongju.
"It felt really good to be selected in the team," Stella said. "I was the only kid from the Illawarra to make it, so I felt privileged to make the team.
"We've got a really good team, training with the boys, we kick the ball around and play really well together so hopefully we can do really well in South Korea.
"It's kinda like a mini-World Cup, so we'll be playing a lot of teams that have different playing styles and will be faster and stronger, which will be tough."
Stella's Sydney FC Academy squad has been grouped in a pool with teams from South Korea, China, Japan and South Sudan and the centre-back said the side's goal is to progress to the knockout stages of the competition.
As a defender, the Balarang Public School student understands he will play a key role in determining how the team performs, but he's confident he will be up to the task.
"We're the best team from Australia, but we'll be about par with all the other kids. If we work hard, we can win it and if I work hard, I can be one of the top players.
"As a defender, I have to take on the top attackers and control the team at the back and hopefully I can do that well.
"I want to win and the team wants to win. The goal is to make it past our group stage, which will be tough because the teams in our group are really good. If we get to the semis we will be on TV, so hopefully we can get that."
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