Youth league returns 

The region’s sports fraternity does not have to wait long to be entertained by players from a national competition.

A-League club Central Coast Mariners will send their National Youth League (NYL) team to Mudgee for a match against the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS).

The January 20 match will be held at Glen Willow and it will be part of the 13th round of the NYL competition.

It will be the second time in four months the Mariners have used the Central West’s number one sports stadium.

They played two pre-season matches in September recording a 10-0 victory over an invitational Western NSW Football side and a 1-0 win over Australia’s new football club, the Western Sydney Wanderers.

A few hundred people were on hand to watch both of those matches and Mudgee Wolves president Peter Mitchell expects more to turn up next month.

“It is great for the FFA [Football Federation Australia] to come back to the country region, to Mudgee, and stage this match,” Mitchell said.

“It was a privilege to have them here in September and it’s going to be another successful event on January 20.”

The Mariners, the defending NYL premiers, are currently leading the competition table on 21 points with seven wins and two draws from their nine games.

They are a win ahead of the two Melbourne clubs – Heart and Victory.

AIS are currently anchored at the bottom of the table with one point, courtesy of a 2-all draw with Sydney FC.

Although they have been on the receiving end of some lopsided score-lines, the AIS side is mostly made up 17-year-olds. It is the youngest team in the NYL.

AIS’s football program focuses on preparing players for selection to the Football Federation Australia’s national under 17 team (The Joey’s) and future professional careers.

“The players who will play are the future of Australian football. They are future Socceroos,” Mitchell said.

“Even though the two sides are at opposite ends of the competition table, I believe it is going to be a tough and entertaining match, hopefully with plenty of goals.”

The NYL game will be the latest big sports event to be held at Glen Willow.

Since the stadium was opened in February it has hosted the City-Country Origin rugby league match, the Trans-Tasman touch football series, the NSW Country Junior Rugby Championships, Mudgee Grassroots Rugby Festival and the Central West Blue Bulls.

Next year it will be the backdrop for an NRL match – the first in the Central West since 1998 – on May 26 between Parramatta Eels and Gold Coast Titans.

In two years time, Touch Football Australia and Touch New Zealand will be back at Glen Willow to contest the 2014 Trans-Tasman series.

The NYL match between the Mariners and AIS will be held at Glen Willow on Sunday, January 20, at 3pm.

THE WORLD GAME: Central Coast Mariners player Chris Bush (yellow) could be in action at Glen Willow when the National Youth League leaders take on Australian Institute of Sport in round 13 of the competition on Sunday, January 20. Photo: SANDY SMITH

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