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Phoenix Rising

Before COVID 19 turned everyone’s world on its ear, the Liverpool Football Club International Academy NSW in Lismore was enjoying considerable success nurturing the region’s young football talent and building a strong and closely-knit football community.

As the full social and economic impacts of the global pandemic began to emerge and the closure of the Liverpool Football Club International Academy NSW became inevitable.

The prospect of an end to high performance training and the lost opportunity for our aspiring youngsters to play in the Football Gold Coast Competition prompted a wave of support throughout the football community and beyond.

Eleven-year-old Academy player, Oliver Hoath-Bastion, launched a petition to save the Academy which quickly garnered almost 3000 signatures. Lismore Mayor Isaac Smith, State Member Janelle Saffin, and Federal Member, Kevin Hogan, all got behind the campaign to keep the Academy program alive.

Encouraged by this groundswell of support, the Academy coaching team and staff came together determined to find a way to continue to provide our promising young footballers with a quality, high- performance program.

The Italo Australia Club and Italo Stars FC stepped up and generously offered their grounds as a training facility. Murwillumbah FC, a regular competitor in the Gold Coast Premier League, took the displaced Academy teams under its wing allowing them play out their 2020 season in the Gold Coast competition. With the survival of the Academy a real possibility, parents and community members created a Steering Committee and the Northern Rivers Football Academy Inc was born.

Rising from the COVID ashes, the NRFA has retained the services of Liverpool-based Technical Director, James Gow, more than 20 of its coaching staff and over 120 Academy players.

With closure of the Queensland border cutting short the 2020 season, the Academy has returned to the Southern Cross Football Centre for an ‘in-house’ 5-a-side competition with teams from all grades battling for honours each Saturday.

Football Far North Coast Clubs have also kept the Academy families busy with regular friendly matches throughout the region.

The new Academy continues to provide a full range of high-performance programs for boys and girls in the 12 to 16 age groups, development programs for 8 to 11-year-olds, holiday skills development clinics and programs for schools.

For 2021, the will continue to offer all the above and more.

Keep an eye out in coming weeks for trial and registration dates.For more information call Thomas George 0427 360 781 or Gavin Whitney 0400 117 494.


Top: Pre-COVID training at Southern Cross Football Centre.

Middle: Spirited 5-a-side competition.

Bottom: The Academy produced outstanding results in the Gold Coast Junior Premier League.


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