Box Hill United U/14 boys’ head coach Matt Sultana explained how the team is preparing for more intensity in competitions, with the 2020 Junior Boys National Premier League (JBNPL) on the horizon.
The 2020 edition will feature a revamped 40-week-long competition structure, involving 48 clubs fielding teams-apiece across U/13, U/14, U/15 and U/16 age grades.
Following an 11-game initial run-in, each team’s position will determine their progress to one of the three subsequent Divisions for the remainder of the season.
Sultana, who will also be involved with coaching duties at Box Hill’s U/12 boys’ set-up, is keen for the JBNPL challenge ahead. He said, “It’s exciting and there have been a lot of changes in the junior boys’ NPL [structure]. It’s going to be a really exciting year for not only Box Hill, but most of the clubs in the NPL.
“With the U/14s’ age group, it’ll be a more unique year, because there’s a lot of pressure on teams to finish in the top-three to ensure that they are playing in the highest division possible. We want to make sure that we are prepared for the intensity of the games.”
With this objective in mind, the 24-year-old has set his sights firmly on preparing his charges to tackle the pressure. Sultana said, “It goes without saying that we back our players both technically and tactically. But it’s that extra bit of pressure in these games is what we are working on right now, just to make sure that we are prepared for those first 11 games of the season, so that we can ensure we are playing at the highest level possible, against the best players.”
Sultana, who previously worked as Box Hill’s senior men’s assistant coach in 2017, has forged a strong reputation for youth development, as part of the club’s MiniRoos Centre of Excellence.
Last season, under his guidance, Box Hill’s MiniRoos gave a great account of their abilities at competitions in Melbourne and interstate, including strong runs in the Anthony Condello Cup and the Club Italia Cup.
Describing his passion for youth development, the former Berwick City, Richmond SC and Kingston City coach said, “A lot of coaches are hesitant to work with younger age groups. It’s important to understand the full scope of development of a player, right from when they first start playing all the way to senior football. You can [then] better understand the needs of every age group.
“For me to be more of a well-rounded coach, I have tried to work with the younger age groups as much as possible, to get a complete understanding of their development process.”