A novel training approach at Stanhope Football Club has led to bigger and better things with two Tatura Soccer Club players making their debuts with the Lions' under-18 team and another five set to play on Saturday in Kyabram District Football League.OLIVER CAFFREY July 9, 2014 3:15am
Stanhope Football Club’s under-18s team is a diverse group of players from different cultural backgrounds. Yasin Alizada, Sajad Hussaini, Josh Newton, Dan Newton, Nasim Yousofi and Hussein Hasan are just some of the players pulling on the boots for the Lions.
It started as a novel approach to training, but a combined football-soccer match has led to results on and off the field.
Two Tatura Soccer Club under-17 players made their Kyabram District Football League debuts for Stanhope’s under-18 side against Violet Town on Saturday.
Former refugees Hussein Hasan and Jawad Jamshaid were named among the Lions’ best players in the loss to the Towners.
Five more multicultural players are expected to line up for the Lions when they travel to Avenel on Saturday.
It all began in May, when 16 multicultural players took part, along with about 10 Lions under-18 players, in a mixed code match at Stanhope Recreation Reserve.
Stanhope under-18 coach Dean Wileman said he could never have expected how successful that night would turn out to be.
‘‘I was hoping maybe some guys would come out to training after that, but I really didn’t know what, if anything, was going to come of it,’’ Wileman said.
‘‘I thought it might just be a mix-up for training with our players breaking up their routine and a fun night getting to know a few different people, but it’s just flourished from there.
‘‘With the guys’ soccer backgrounds, their game sense is so good, they’re obviously still getting used to a bit of a different skill set, but we’re all really happy with how it has eventuated.’’
Things were looking grim for the Lions’ under-18 team at the beginning of the year, with the side struggling to field enough players.
‘‘Our numbers are up to about 26 now, early on in the season, we had two of my sons play — one is only eight and the other one is 11,’’ Wileman said.
‘‘They had to fill in otherwise we would’ve had to forfeit the game, but since then things are looking really good.
‘‘Our senior coach Brenton Gray, president Joey Leocata and Jason Leocata have all been great and helped us out with anything we need.’’
The first combined training session came about through Lions player Mat Monahan, who joined the club this season.
Monahan’s mother Elisabeth Dunne and her partner Luis Rodriguez, who is Tatura Soccer Club’s under-17s coach, run the street soccer program in Shepparton and work closely with local refugees.
Dunne said the initiative had benefited everyone involved.
‘‘All the boys at Stanhope have been good and so welcoming to all the guys that have come across and played,’’ Dunne said.
‘‘It’s such a good way to break down culture barriers and they all seem to have clicked together really well.
‘‘The two sports have brought different people together that might not otherwise have happened in normal circumstances.’’
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