A season or two of playing Federation League and Premiership football will hopefully stand the GJ Gardner Wanganui Athletic FC Under 19's in good stead for their tournament in Napier this Labour Weekend.
Athletic will be in the Satellite division of the Napier City Rovers National Youth Tournament, which is the largest and most prestigious Under 19 tournament in the country.
"Some of New Zealand's top young football stars have descended on Park Island for more than three decades to compete for the top youth prize," said Athletic manager Gary Johnston
"Every Labour weekend sees more than 130 games of exciting football being played at arguably the best footballing venue in the country.
"Some of the biggest clubs from all over New Zealand compete for the trophy.
"Over the years, many young players have played in the tournament and gone on to gain international status."
WAFC president and GJ Gardner Homes Athletic 1sts player Peter Czerwonka will coach the team.
The side is made up of the younger players from both the 1sts and the Reserves, who compete in Central Football's Federation League and Premiership respectively.
The 1sts team completed league play in fifth place for the 11-team competition with a 8-3-5 record, while they finished the season on a high by retaining the Charity Cup with a 2-1 victory over derby rivals Versatile Wanganui City FC on September 7.
Wanganui Athletic FC Reserves are the club's development squad, and finished the nine-team Premiership season in second-last with a 3-1-12 record.
The Under 19's group has been preparing for the youth tournament since the club season's conclusion.
"We've had a successful lead up to the tournament with games against Levin AFC, Wainuiomata AFC, Wairarapa United, and Lower Hutt AFC," said Johnston.
"This is an important feature of our development programme for youth players in the club."
Athletic have been drawn in Satellite Pool F, where they will face the Under 19 teams from the Gisborne Thistle, Western Rangers, Albany United and Hibiscus Coast.
Their first game is against Western Rangers at 9am on Saturday.
The team is
Tom Dickson (gk), Lachlan Hills (gk), David Garner (c), Marley Norris, Jake Simcox, Karan Holland, Cameron Mackintosh, Ryan Donaldson, Divnesh Dayal, Blake Sherman, Jude Hiri, Zachary Farmer, Amishel Kumar, Jordan Candish, Flynn Johnston, Aidan O'Connor, Matthew Teka, Luke Howe.
Coach: Peter Czerwonka. Manager: Gary Johnston.