Our new soccer stars: locals chosen for Western Mariners

Local soccer players Josephine McKenzie, Ace Hancock and Eli Gharib have been selected to play at an elite level for the Western NSW Mariners as part of the Football NSW Skills Acquisition Program.

They're competing against some of the best kids in Sydney

Doug McKenzie

This program aims to provide professionally delivered development opportunities for young footballers in NSW which underpins the National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s and Women’s competitions.

Locally based Western NSW coach Doug Mckenzie said both Ace and Eli will be playing in the Western NSW Mariners Under 9s squad while Josephine will play in the Under 9s or Under 10s squad.

When playing for the Western NSW Mariners Josephine, Ace and Eli will be up against some tough competition against players from Sydney and around the state.

“They’re competing against some of the best kids in Sydney,” McKenzie said.

Eli said he only has a few nerves about playing for the Western NSW Mariners in the Skills Acquisition Program.

Even though they are going up against some tough competition, Ace isn’t nervous about it and says he only gets a couple of nerves while playing.

Mckenzie said the three local players had to pass through several assessments to test their skills, which included a two-day trial, before they were accepted into the Western NSW Mariners.

The players will begin training for the Western NSW Mariners in early February, and will split their time training locally and in Orange.

The 2019 Football NSW SAP competition begins in March and sees players travelling between Orange and Sydney for games.

There is also a call for skilled players from around the region to join the Western NSW Mariners men’s squad.

Mark Rooke, who will take over as the Western NSW Mariners first grade coach for 2019, said there are good enough players out here, but they just have to get them on the one field.