Brazil 2019 will be Australia’s third U-17 World Cup in recent years
The side is now coached by highly-regarded youth coach Trevor Morgan
He's helped develop numerous male and female international players
If western Sydney is a heartland of modern Australian football, Westfields Sports High School is surely its epicentre.
The school’s list of alumni read like a list of who’s who of Australian football. Australia’s key 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ personnel Maty Ryan and Aaron Mooy are some of the more recent notable names on a long list of male and female World Cup players, with the roll-call headlined by Germany 2006 star Harry Kewell. No less than six of Australia’s Russia 2018 squad went to the school, a common ratio among many of the nation’s youth and senior national team squads in recent years.
Throughout the best part of the past two decades Trevor Morgan was the senior coach at this Aussie football factory. It is the standout listing on an extraordinary football development CV that includes coaching youth teams at a host of national league clubs, as well as an assistant role at the 2009 and 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cups.
Now, finally, Morgan has been given an opportunity of his own on the world stage after being appointed Australia’s national U-17 coach last year. He and his side will have an opportunity to further develop their craft when they visit Brazil - one of world football’s spiritual homes - in October for the FIFA U-17 World Cup.
Quirkily, the quantity of players from the Westfields’ production line is below average in Morgan’s current U-17 national team squad, otherwise known as the Joeys. “With this group I have tried really hard to reach out across the country and make sure that no one is missing out on their chance,” Morgan told FIFA.com.
And what has been the secret formula behind Westfields' historic success? “A lot of the magic is in the drive and innovation and people at the school. The fact that things are not so flash compared to some other schools means people come for the purpose of getting better.
“The coaching in that environment is about wanting to see the individual improve, rather than winning a specific game. Over a long period of time it creates athletes who are very responsible, who are very aware of how they can improve and have a strong capacity to find what is needed to succeed.
“I was fortunate enough to be able to work with promising young players and be able to polish those personal attributes. I try and coach as something of a teacher.”
Runners-up at the 1999 edition of the tournament and U-17 World Cup regulars in decades gone by, Australia head to the world stage for just the third time in the past 14 years. Waiting in Brazil will be a diverse list of group opponents which includes Ecuador, Hungary and U-17 World Cup super power Nigeria; a five-time winner of the tournament.
“Variety is the spice of life,” Morgan said of the contrasting types of football his side will face. “This is what World Cups are all about. They are all different challenges, which is good for us and our development. It certainly won’t be Groundhog Day.
“We try to give the players as much confidence in their own ability. We allow people to play a style of football that allows them to express themselves.
“My philosophy is to empower the athletes to make good decisions and to show them what they can do to express themselves, and that is what I want when we go to the World Cup.”