27 July 2016
In the world of professional sport, where size, power and speed matters, it’s getting increasingly harder for young stars to get the opportunity to prove their worth. That wasn’t the case though last Saturday night when the Melbourne Victory stepped out against a world class Juventus in the International Champions Cup at the MCG.
For Maribyrnong Sports Academy year 11 student Seb Pasquali, it was the biggest night of his life and one that he will remember for a long time.
“It was an exciting day and the lead up to the game was pretty special, we arrived there and had a bit of a look at the G, and had a bit of a feel for what it was going to be like. It was pretty surreal playing on the MCG.” Seb recalls of the early parts of the evening.
The boy from Wangaratta, who made his way down to Melbourne over two and a half years ago to take his Football game to a new level, knows the significance of playing on the hallowed turf. “Everyone talks about playing on the G and the MCG being the home of sport, and it’s good to say that I have now played on it”.
Seb had no idea until moments before the game that he would get a run against one of the biggest teams in World sport, “I was named in the squad a couple of days before the game and at that time I wasn’t sure if I would come on, but I got told just before we ran out that the boss (Kevin Muscat, Victory coach) would try and put me on if he got a chance, and to try and enjoy the moment.”
Pasquali was instrumental in a couple of main plays during the game, including a fantastic backheeler to Jai Ingham which allowed the attacking midfielder to equalise for the Victory, but his moment of Glory was scoring in the penalty shootout handing Melbourne Victory the win. “I didn’t actually get to choose what number I went in the order, I just put my hand up to take a penalty and they said go fifth, so I said alright. Being a Soccer fan I know number five is the most important, but even though I was nervous I really enjoyed the opportunity to score the penalty, and if the chance ever came up again I would take it on for sure.”
Melbourne Victory coach Kevin Muscat praised the 16-year old’s debut on the club’s website, "It was a big night for him, we asked him to come on and contribute and affect the game, and he did so.”
"He's a young boy. I don't think we can get too excited. He wouldn't be training with us in the squad if he didn't have some sort of ability.
"At the moment he's a young man learning his trade, and he's showed some good signs.
"He's taking on board what is asked of him. He's only just started his senior professional career.
"There'll be times when he'll be pulled away from us and he won't be with us – he'll continue with his studies, which is obviously important.
"At this point in time, we'll nurture him along.
"It was just important to get some minutes into the players. It was exciting for them to be out there in the penalty shootout."
Seb claims hard work and attitude as the main attributes to getting to where he has so far in his career. “From a young age I have practised every day, and it might be a cliché but I either trained at the club or stayed back and did extra stuff, even when I’ve had injuries, I have still tried to give it 100%. I was out for 6 months last year and that was really tough, a real challenging time, but the club helped me get back to full fitness and I have sort of just been on an uphill spiral since, just working hard every day, getting the opportunity to train with the first team a few times and performing with the youth team has led to me getting this chance.”
Seb joined the Maribyrnong Sports Academy in year 9 and says he doesn’t regret the move. “I moved down here from Wangaratta 2 and a half years ago and I just can’t speak highly enough of the school, they have been great to me. The teachers and coaches have been super flexible, allowing me to come in and out of school to fill my training commitments and the work I did at the school before being full time with the Victory made my body a lot stronger. The coaches and teachers have been really good in providing me with everything that I needed, and if I wanted to come in on different days and do extra work, it wasn’t an issue.”
“Also the coaches at the Academy have been really flexible allowing me to miss some technical training sessions to keep my body in good condition.”
And if Seb had a say in his progression over the next 5 years he says learning his craft at the Victory would do him nicely, “I would love to sign a contract at the Melbourne Victory, and play there for a few years and eventually if I’m good enough play overseas and play for a European club and also hopefully play for the Socceroos one day as well. If I could have it that way I would.”
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