How Western Sydney Wanderers are setting themselves apart and building for the future

The red and black continue to lead the way when it comes to youth development

Despite still being in their infancy, Western Sydney Wanderers have never shied away from having one eye firmly on the future and continue to stand out when it comes to youth development.

The Wanderers had five of their academy players named in a recent Under 18's Australian squad - more than any other A-League club with crosstown rivals Sydney FC claiming just one representative.

Mohamed Adam, Kosta Grozos, Noah Pagden, John Roberts and Nicholas Suman will all be representing the red and black in a tour of Japan as Western Sydney continue to dominate when it comes to national youth team selection.

For Wanderers National Youth League coach Arthur Diles, who himself has come through the ranks of the club's academy system, the selections vindicate the club's commitment to developing young players. 

"I think it’s massive, we never take it for granted," Diles told Goal

"It’s been that way for a while now, we’ve had a lot of player makes youth national teams in the past couple of years and it’s something we consciously strive towards because it’s the ultimate compliment being able to have players from your club represent the national team.

"It’s a good feeling for us to know we’re picking the right players and helping them come through."

Abraham Majok

Western Sydney's academy was awarded two-star status by Football Federation Australia last year after meeting criteria designed to provide more high quality coaching to a larger number of young players.

For Diles, the Wanderers long-term approach to youth development is something that sets the club apart. 

"I don’t know what the other clubs are doing, and we pretty much focus on what we do, but I think one thing we do is we’re always looking for a player with a future in the game tomorrow and not so much a player that’s going to win us a game at U14’s, U15’s or NYL today," he said.

"When you’re trying to develop youth, clubs really have to have a mandate of what they believe in.

"It’s cliche to say you want to produce players, but do you really? I think at the Wanderers, looking at the first team, the number players that have come through the youth team is incredible."

From defensive-minded players like Tass Mourdoukoutas and Keanu Baccus to dangerous strikers Abraham Majok and Lachlan Scott, Western Sydney has embraced its academy in recent years.

An approach Diles reveals has been evident since the club's beginnings just six years ago. 

"I think obviously from the start the club has had that thought process and the idea of we want players that come through the club, we want to invest time, money and energy into youth development," he said.

"They’ve made a conscious effort to see that come to fruition and I think the new training complex is further evidence that this club really cares about producing players and they’ll go above and beyond to deliver that."

Western Sydney Wanderers NYL

The Wanderers approach to youth was rewarded in February this year with some silverware as they took out the NYL grand final against Melbourne City.

After scoring 29 goals across eight league games, Western Sydney finally made the most of promising performances in the competition to seal their first title.

Despite a great personal achievement for Diles, he stressed it was a success the club was owed to some degree. 

"Personally it’s always nice to achieve anything...for me though, it’s bigger for the club because it deserves some recognition for the hard work they’ve been doing for a number of years," he said.

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"That was a big reward for the club and the players. The club deserve it and they deserve many more.

"Our goal is to be the number one club in youth in this country consistently and that will be measured by a number of things - success on the park, players selected in national teams, players making the first team and hopefully sending some players overseas." 

Still itself growing as a club, it seems only right that the Wanderers continue to commit to youth development as they look to build towards an even brighter future.