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Jan 27, 2023   |  9:15AM AET

PGFC Academy First Team looking to build through Night Series

PGFC Academy First Team looking to build through Night Series

With the PGFC Academy First Team set to get their 2023 NPL Night Series underway on Sunday evening against Inglewood United at Inglewood Stadium (kick-off at 7.00pm), we decided to check in with Head Coach John Walmsley for an update on how the current crop of exciting youngsters are travelling.

Q: Firstly, John, are you happy with your pre-season preparations so far?

JW: It’s gone really well.
It’s a young group, but it’s a good group and their attitude has been excellent in terms of their approach, their performance and the habits that they’ve shown.
We’ve had two pre-season games where we got to have a look at everyone and build up their minutes and we’re looking forward to continuing that in the Night Series.

Q: Is it a much-changed First Team group to the one that represented the club in the NPL last season?

JW: We have a lot of the 18s and 20s from last year, a lot of talented 2006s and 2005s [born players] and there are some 04s in there as well.
Regardless of their age, they’re good players and they’ll give anyone problems if they’re consistent with their approach.
We’ve got a bigger training squad and I think the challenge for us this year will be, with the movement that might happen between the A-League team, how much that impacts us in terms of the First Team and the U20s.
There’s also national team camps with the U17s and U20s, so it’s about having players that all understand their roles and responsibilities and what they’re jobs are.
It’s about being consistent with that approach even if the squad and team may change week in, week out depending on all those different variables.

Q: What are your key objectives as far as the Night Series is concerned?

JW: The most important thing is to take each game as it comes and then looking to play our game, perform the things that are important to our style and improve on our performance week after week.
We want to get better throughout the Night Series and then lead that into the season so when the season starts, we’re further along in the development of the group.

Q: You’ve been involved in the PGFC Academy for some time, but this is your first season in charge of the First Team; how did you move into the role and how do you feel it has gone so far?

JW: Around 10 years ago, I was working with the NTC with Kenny Lowe [PGFC Academy Director], so I know him from those days and then when I was working with the younger Glory teams, I had a lot of contact with him.
The last couple of years, I’ve been working with Gareth Naven at Bayswater and really enjoyed working with him and learned a lot from him.
That’s been a good apprenticeship, working with Kenny and Gareth and it was towards the end of last year that Kenny approached me and asked if I’d be interested in the role [PGFC Academy First Team Head Coach].
It was something that I was very keen and excited to get into, working with good players and a good environment and since I’ve been here, I’ve really enjoyed it.
It’s been really good that there’s a hunger and a desire from the playing group to get better and make that next step in their development.

Q: Given your previous work with the younger age groups within the PGFC Academy, you must be familiar with a lot of the players you’re currently coaching in the First Team squad?

JW: That’s right.
A lot of the players I had in the Under-14s when we won the National Championships, like Chris Donnell, Danny Douglas and Aiki Tsukamoto, there are a lot of those players and even the 06s, like Daniel Bennie, I worked with him at the school [Lake Joondalup Baptist College] and the State Team.
Because I had the 14s job for so long, it’s like every kid from 2000 to 2006, I’ve either coached or I’m aware of and it’s a good position to be in.
But when they first came in, I said it’s a clean sheet because although I know them, I know the version of them from three years ago.

Q: What are you expecting from Sunday’s clash with Inglewood?

JW: The focus at the moment, especially with it being pre-season, is upon ourselves and our performance.
We have an idea of how Inglewood will set up and they’re a difficult opponent who gave teams problems last year, but obviously things can change in the off-season with signings and a different approach to tackling the season, so we’ll take it as it comes.
As the season goes on, we’ll have a clearer idea of how the league will be and how teams are setting up, but moving forward for Sunday, it’s more about us approaching it in the way we need to and getting better with our pre-season preparations.