THREE Shellharbour Football Club members, Liam Bonetig and twins Nicholas and James Quinn, were the big winners when UK talent scout John Hindley visited the Illawarra recently.
More than 130 local junior soccer players had access to free trials to showcase their skills in front of Hindley, at the two-day event hosted by the Illawarra Football Academy.
Event director Mark Tyssen said that the opportunity was a major coup for the Illawarra and for juniors to gain an insight from a prominent UK talent scout.
Hindley currently scouts for Everton and has many contacts with leading English Premier League clubs including Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Bolton, and Wigan, and travels the globe scouting players.
On this trip, he offered the academy several free tours to promising young players and, finally, after two gruelling days and a lot of football, chose Bonetig as the overall winner. He also offered the Quinn brothers a shared tour.
They will now travel with Hindley in April and tour throughout England, and play at some of the biggest academies and clubs in the UK.
"These boys have the talent and potential to become international footballers and I believe that it would be no surprise if one of them received an offer to join one of the big English clubs whilst over there in April," Hindley said.
More exciting news will be announced over the next few weeks, with the Illawarra Football Academy being assigned a National Roadshow event in the Illawarra in March or April.
This will allow hundreds of local juniors, aged 7 to 17, to participate in trials and more free tours on offer.
Hindley indicated that John Grant, academy coach and scout for Manchester City, would be accompanying him on the trip, along with further professional scouts and players.
The Illawarra Football Academy is launching a new junior soccer training facility from the King Memorial Oval, The Kingsway, Warilla, on Monday, February 11 at 4.30pm, which will feature a free five-a-side competition.