There’s a moment in every football fanatics life where they will question themselves, ‘what would it really be like to be a professional footballer?’ With this in mind, Nike teamed up with A-League outfit Melbourne City to give 25 young footballers the chance to experience a day as a professional player.
And thanks to an invite from our friends at Nike, we thought it was a good idea to head along and experience the day.
9.30am – Welcome to NIKE & Melbourne City
Excitement filled the air as the boys prepared to join Nike Football and kick-off their day following the life of a professional Melbourne City footballer. Contracts were signed and in true Nike fashion we were ushered into a locker room in Nike’s Melbourne HQ to be presented with fresh Nike gear to make sure we looked the part of a professional athlete.
10am – City Training
Time to head out to La Trobe and Melbourne City’s brand spanking new training facility to check out the City boys preparations before their big FFA Cup game the following night. The enthusiasm in the camp was contagious, demonstrated by the determination of David Williams to play in their first game as Melbourne City. Williams arrived back in Melbourne in the early hours of this morning to train with the squad after a big effort against Juventus the night before
10.15am – Expectations
Melbourne City Football Director John Didulica greeted the group and began to offer insight into the cutthroat nature of the professional football business and what it took to become a pro player.
Players normally trained from 10am-12pm, meaning that they were expected to come to training early to eat breakfast before 9am. They have to meet in the lobby room where they are ticked off before training begins. Any niggling injuries must be reported to the physiotherapist as soon as it happens.
It is only until after training that the final squads are released and players find out whether they will be appearing in the starting 11.
11.15am – Match Day
Time to head back into the center of the city to the destination we’d all been waiting for, AAMI Park. It was a surreal moment for some of the lads, who walking down through the halls of AAMI received further encouragement to achieve their dreams. Once again, Nike treated us with a personalized locker, filled with a full kit and brand new pair of the Mercurial Superflys worn by none other than Cristiano Ronaldo!
12pm – Tactics
A quick look at the AAMI pitch and some happy snaps, it was straight into the conference room where MCFC’s Youth squad coach Joe Palatsides was waiting to discuss tactics for the upcoming training session. It was the first time of the day the boys were dead silent, listening into the tips and strategies he was offering.
TIP // When receiving a pass always open up the angle to position yourself to play the ball for your next move of attack.
1pm – Training (Time to Shine)
Finally it was time to step up and Train like a Pro. It was hard for some of the boys to hide back their nerves whereas for others, this was just another training session. The intensity was high, a number of ball control and skill drills demonstrating the boy’s eagerness to show off their skills and possibly grab the eye of one of the youth coaches. Training concluded with a high intensity game simulation, undoubtedly the best part of the day which featured some silky skills from The TURF.
3pm – Media
As the boys cooled down and went back into the locker rooms, it was time to face the music as they were approached by an inquisitive media contingent, as would real professional footballers. The pressure was on as players were placed in front of sponsors and asked about their future aspirations as a footballer.
“Playing professional and at the highest level possible, playing in Italy and pushing for a national team spot is my goal,” South Melbourne midfielder, Stefan Valentini shared with The TURF
4pm – Recovery
The day finished with a yoga session, which to the surprise of many of the boys was the hardest part of the day. Many of the boys seemed exhausted and were ready to call it a day.
5pm – Time to call it a day
The group returned to Nike HQ before departing with a new aspiration and insight to push them in achieving their dream of becoming a professional footballer. Before TURF left, we sat down with Nike Brand Manager, Andrew Keith to find out a bit more about Nike’s investment in youth football.
“Nike continue to invest in youth football as it’s a great way to inspire & enable young footballers and give them the chance to make it as an elite footballer,” Andrew said.
“We had a large number of young footballers apply for this opportunity and it is programs such as this that give footballers an alternative path to possibly be selected for a Most Wanted trial and to ultimately have a shot at joining The Nike Academy.”
The next Nike Most Wanted Trials will commence in Australia early next year. Register now via the Nike Football App
By Ari Charilaou, Edited by Jacob Arnott