FCV Academy coach Ben Watts reflects on Australia trip

It's a busy time for FCV Academy, who are jetting around the world during the final months of 2016.

Read more: Germany, India, Australia – FCV go international

One of the stops on the tour was Australia, and Ben Watts, the man responsible for talent development at FCV, talked us through his recent trip Down Under.

Did your trip to Australia meet the goals you set before you went out?

I needed to get out to Australia as soon as possible to get FCV’s name out there. It was a recruitment trip, but I knew I wasn’t going to come back with a high number of players. However, it was important to make people aware of us.

The sessions I took were very good and there were some potential players with decent ability, so it was a very productive trip.

How could the relationships in Australia benefit the FCV Academy?

FCV could benefit massively from links in Australia. Other parts of the country have now been mentioned, I’ve touched base in Sydney and believe we have a good reputation there. Now there are possibilities in Perth, Brisbane and Canberra that we must assess moving forward. It’s nice to know there is more opportunity.

Australia is a difficult market, the season is a little strange there as the A-League runs outside of everything else. I saw a lot of lads trialling, there were some promising performances and I coached a couple of very good under-18 players. I did some guest sessions with some teams too, which were really good. The standards are really on the up.  

What about the standard of the facilities whilst you were there?

I’ve been to Bossley High School before and they are fantastic hosts, I can’t thank them enough for their hospitality whilst I was there. I also visited some of Sydney’s private schools, and Knox Grammar could prove to be a phenomenal link for FCV. They have some fantastic facilities, including an Olympic swimming pool, a great gym, and a home ground that seats up to 5,000 people.

Football is not Australia’s first sport, so what’s the attitude towards it?

The attitude towards football changes every time I go to Australia. We had some great feedback on our sessions, so things are really improving. There are some good people trying to make good things happen – my contact there is a former Hull City Academy manager, and he’s exactly the type of person they need.

The A-League is a bit like the Premier League, in that it’s very hard to get in to. A lot of the kids can be a little disillusioned when it comes to their options, and whether they’d like to come to Europe and give it a go.

Do you think we could see more Australian players at FCV soon?

I think we’ll see some more Aussies in Stamford – I think we will have some players come and try it before their season kicks off. A lot of the lads over there want a year out, so if they can come and sample us on a short course that’s the way they will do it. I will be surprised if we don’t see a lot of players come over.

Josh Spencer is the perfect example to the lads out there. He finished his schooling in Australia and wanted a year out, and decided that he wanted to come and give football a go. There’s a lot of players wanting to do that and I think the pathway JJ has taken is the correct one.

Read more: Josh Spencer – flying to the top


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