It will be a youthful St George FC who head into the 2017 Playstation 4 National Premier Leagues NSW 2 season, after a recruitment drive which will see the average age of the first team squad no higher than 23.
Young maybe, but there will be plenty of club experience in the red and white all the same, with two of the new signings having previously played for the Saints during their earlier youth league days, combining with a large contingent of locals remaining from last season.
Nicholas Paras, moving across town from fellow NPL2 club Bankstown Berries, and Jacob Bandur, making the short trip from NPL1 club Hakoah Sydney City East, will link up with last season’s regulars including Tarik Ercan, Stevan Ilic, Johnathan Kontalis and Thomas Menton, all previous Saints youth league players themselves. Add in David Ilic, Anthony Morabito and Rino Zenari, who have progressed to the first team squad from last year’s Under 20s, and there is a large contingent of locals keen to shine.
New coach Terry Palapanis, now combining the first team coaching role with that of Technical Director, was keen to put together a young squad, ready to tackle the year ahead.
“It was always my intention to have a side with a youthful look, and particularly one with local players, joined by a couple of older, experienced guys. We wanted younger players with ambition, with our aim to bring the best out of those players”.
“As a club, we want to be able to attract the best local players in the area, and to provide that opportunity to progress”.
For St George FC president, Ross Gardner, the new season holds plenty of promise.
“The club’s appointment of Terry as first team coach was an important one for us, as he has a vision for the Saints which will include a lot of opportunity for our young players. We have built a squad with a high level of local product, with many having started their careers at St George”.
“Terry has been very successful with the youth leagues and is leading the club in a very good direction”.
One of those who continues with the Saints is captain Tarik Ercan, who is especially keen for the new season to start.
“We might be young but we won’t be using that as an excuse this season. We have a great team spirit and as many of us have played together previously, some for many years, we feel we can do anything”.
“Obviously, there are bigger clubs with much bigger budgets, but we have a good camaraderie and are very positive for the year ahead”.
“I can’t wait for this weekend”, he concluded
St George, who will call Seymour Shaw Park in Miranda their home for the season, open the year there on Sunday against Blacktown Spartans, kick off 7pm.
- St George FC press release