Westfields Sports

________________________________________________________________   First In Australia


                                             

Higher School Of Learning

By George Khamo

Westfields Sports is Australia's first Sports High School. The Commonwealth department of Education has decsribed Westfields as "a project of national significance". The school aims to provide guidance within an environment that allows talented athletes opportunities to develope and rea- lise their potential in both academic and sporting endeavors. Westfields' greatest project of internatio- nal significance must be its soccer program.
Westfields boasts a whose who of domes- tic and international soccer talent. By far the biggest name to come out of the Fair- field West school is Leeds United superst- ar Harry Kewell. "Harry Kewell is a trailblazer. The only thing missing from Harry's relationship with the school is not being able to drop in. For Harry to walk in and spend five minu- tes in the principal's office would turn the place upside down", says Westfield's Director of Soccer Trevor Morgan. And
Harry Kewell Harry Kewell: The most recognisable graduate of Westfields Sports.
Kewell isn't the only Westfield's student to blaze a trail overseas.
Successful participants in the soccer program include Jacob Burns, Jamie McMaster and Shane Cansdell-Sherriff - Leeds United (UK), Leslie Pogiacomi - Oldham (UK), Jason Culina - Ajax (Hol), Michael Brown - Feyenoord (Hol), David Carney - Everton (UK), Trent McClenahan - West Ham United (UK), Srecko Mitrovic - Piacenza (ITA), Tallen Martin - Newcastle United (UK), Gareth Edds - Reading (UK), Matthew Rosier Southampton (UK) and James Wesolowski - Leicester City - (UK).
More than a dozen players overseas and planty more in the NSL with the likes of Sean Babic and Liam Austin - Wollongong Wolves, Nahuel Arrarte and - Sydney United, Alex Brosque, Christian Care and Eric Anabalon - Marconi, Bradley Groves, Daniel Vukovic, Stefen DelZio, Angeko Martino and Michael Beauchamp - Parramatta Power and Matthew Osman and Matthew Hunter at Northern Spirit. The girl's don't miss out either; Heather Garriock and Kelly Golebbiowski have both represented Australia at senior level for the Matildas. And one man's vision has made it all possible.
The creation of a specialist sports high
school was the idea of Principal Phil Tucker 13 years ago.
"I was very aware of a massive drop out rate in sport across the high school years. Kids went from being very active in primarty school and, as they got older, played less
and less sport until they hardly played at all by the time they got to their HSC. I saw it with my own kids - they had to choose between sport and academic success.
Jason Culina Jason Culina: Has moved on as a graduate of Westfields and onto the rigors of Dutch first team football.

"I also saw the conser- vatorium High School and Newtown School of the Performing Arts doing wonderful things their area of specialisation and I had a vision that a sports high school would create a trilogy."
It's a vision that has proven to be more than fruitful and which has now spun off into six other specialist sports high schools, including the Hills Sports High School which will have it's first Year 7 intake in 2003.
Trevor Morgan, who is also Parramatta Power's youth team coach, has coached at
youth level since 1990 and says Westfields soccer program is the most comprehensive he has experienced.
"In earlier programs there was basically one coach who did everything, obviously the limitation of that is you can't have speci- alists in other areas.
"At this stage we have John Crawley in to take care of goalke- epers; I have coaches coming in to do an elite program within the program.
"We also have people like Alex Tobin come in here to be involved with coaching."
And the specialization and commitment doesn't end there. Westfields now, albeit a high school, runs a program for primary school children to help young players find their feet at a younger age.
"In the last three years we have initiated a primary school program. We've got some kids who are very talented. One boy for example was the last kid to make the PSSA state team in year five since Harry Kewell 14 years ago". says Morgan.
Another of the long-time coaches involved with Westfields soccer program is current Sydney United player David Barrett. A veteran of over 300 NSL matches, Barrett has been with Westfields since 1991. "We try to prepare the senior team the same way that I prepare as a national league player or my team prepare.. Basically, I see my job
Jacob Burns Jacob Burns: Another from the Westfields program currently playing in Europe. football.

as trying to prepare the senior footballers for the expectations and how one prepares physically and mentally for a game at the highest level in this country, so when they go into senior football they're not shocked or surprised by everything", Barrett says.
And it all seems to be going to plan. The senior team has won the Commonwealth Bank Cup, Australia's biggest high school level soccer competi- tion, for the last ten years in a row, by far the most successful school in the compet- ition. And the senior girls are a dominant force as well, winning the last seven Comm- onwealth Bank Shields. Also at the under 15 level, West- fields' boys have won fout Bill Turner Cups and the girls have won five titles. Westfields has produced count- less players for nati- onal representation at all levels like Joeys, Olyroos, Matildas and Socceroos. Also they currently average a quarter of all state representative teams in New South Wales.
And the girls have taken their soccer domination to a new level.
"The girls are untouchable. We've played several games a year where we go on the park with eight girls and beat a side 12-nil", says Morgan with a smile.
This scribe asked Morgan and Barrett if there is a new Kewell in the midst. And there was no hesitation; both immediatly said the same name...James Wesolowski.
"Freak, the best kid we have ever seen here. I don't know if I could even compare Harry to him. Play him anywhere you like. He played Commonwealth Bank Cul at 13 in year 8, he's been playing 19's for Leicester City in England and he's only just turned 15. He's hardworking, mature and intelligent", says Morgan with sheer pride.
"if anybody was going to make it, you'd put your money on James. He is far superior to most players and exceptional in his dedication. You've got a kid in year 9 who's the best player in the senior team", says Barrett, who has seen many a player in his time.
So the future is burning bright for both Westfields and Australian soccer. Hopefully players like James Wesolowski and his teammates can kick Australia into a new generation of soccer success.
AUSTRALIAN AND BRITISH SOCCER WEEKLY - DECEMBER 10, 2002
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