The Western Sydney Wanderers clinched the National Premier Leagues 2 under 18 title with a 2-1 win over Sydney FC on Saturday.
In the club’s first season in the NPL, player progression through the grades left the under 18’s grand final squad with an average age of 16 and only two players who started the year in the side.
Under 18’s coach Arthur Diles said the first year of the Wanderers Academy had been excellent, establishing a development path for the club’s young talent.
“As a club, it proved to be quite fruitful for us to give these kids opportunities,” he said.
“For me, I think development without opportunity is irrelevant really.”
Diles praised the grand final performance as one of the season’s best.
After conceding an early goal, the young Wanderers fought back with goals to captain Josh Bartolotto and Jeremy Skotadis to seal the result.
Bartolotto said it was a rewarding result after big changes during the season.
“The boys worked hard all year and we were on top from the start,” he said.
“Halfway through the season we lost a lot of boys because they were playing up so we had a lot of young guys playing for us.”
The older grades couldn’t replicate the success of the under 18’s with the under 20’s squad falling 2-1 and first grade side losing 4-1 against Sydney FC in their respective grand finals.