LOCALFC was invited by Nike Football Aus to document this year’s Most Wanted 2016 global Trials at St George’s National Park ( The training facility of the English FA.) Young footballers from around the globe who have made their way through the local MW showcase, now had three days to make an impression on the coaching staff to be chosen to become full-time professionals in the Nike Academy Football program.
Boarding a flight from Australia we arrive in Birmingham a day later, for the players from outside of Europe this is something they need to deal with straight away and for most it means stretching and pool sessions on arrival at St George’s. Traveling from the airport to the facility we are in the same bus as the trialists from Colombia, in their faces you see wide-eyed optimism brought on by their new environment as they contemplated just how life changing the next days could be.
The environment of St George’s is a footballer’s dream, everything you require is here to train as the English National team would. From indoor and outside pitches, gym, and recovery pools, the football side is covered. Nike put their spin on the activation and the HQ is transformed into a footballer’s paradise. Giant screens with FIFA hooked up, hip hop and ping pong, chill time is looked after.
Day1 the players arrive throughout the day, they meet their teammates for the first time. Divided into Team A & B their coaches explain what is expected of them and the opportunity that lies ahead. The evening session is light allowing the players to acclimatize to their new surroundings.
Day2 starts with a morning session for two hours replicating the intensity of the Nike Academy. Do these players have what it takes to be in this environment? On and off the pitch the players are being watched and judged by the way they carry themselves and what they can bring to the table. Do they have the mentality to be a professional footballer? During the day there are two class sessions. A review of the morning session and preparation for the game against the other trialists at night.
The skies are black, it’s 5•c, the floodlights are calling. It’s Team A vs Team B. Each player competing against each other for a spot in the Academy. A fierce game with some players standing out more than others. We are following Jake Mechell of NZ & Jacob Sullivan of Aus, who slammed a penalty home. Both players performing well.
There is one day to go and everything still to play for. You can see the players become more passionate about this opportunity now they have had a taste of it. Time to recover and leave everything out on the pitch in the finale against the current academy squad.
Pt1 Words/Images by LOCALFC (Chad Gibson)