Academy youngsters Waddingham and Gill out to gain further top team experience

Saturday’s friendly against the FQPL Wide Bay All Star side gave Academy youngsters Waddingham and Gill a chance to showcase their skills in front of Head Coach Warren Moon in a match setting.

Both players were brought on in the closing stages of Saturday’s 7-0 win after wrapping up their NPL seasons with Chris Grossman’s Academy side.

Moon spoke about the opportunity that these friendlies provide for youngsters such as Waddingham and Gill.

“A lot of the young boys came in for the game, in particular in the second half and all 4 of them really impressed when they got the opportunity,” Moon said.

On the ball: Thomas Waddingham

After an NPL season where the Roar used a competition-high 38 players, Moon discussed the chances that have been afforded to young players getting to gain experience in a senior men’s competition.

“Whilst it’s been a difficult year for our academy, it’s also provided an opportunity for these young players to be exposed and they’ve done quite well considering the lack of experience at senior men’s level. We think they’re all good players and good prospects for our club for the future.”

17-year-old Waddingham, a Cairns native, was identified by Moon (then the Academy General Manager) in 2019 at a Talent Support Program (TSP) match and was brought into the Roar Academy when he moved to Brisbane for school soon afterwards.

A versatile attacker, Waddingham can fill a number of roles for the side, and he caught the attention of Moon almost instantly.

“He’s a good player. Thomas played on the left wing (in the TSP match) and I knew there and then he was a real prospect and a real talent. He’s made every post a winner now and found himself as a fixture in the NPL team and he’s now had some regular training exposure with the A-League boys and his first couple of games off the bench.” Moon said.

In the 2022 NPL Queensland season, Waddingham earned a regular spot for Grossman’s side, playing 13 games, starting 11 and finished as the co-leading scorer for the side with five goals.

Some of his highlights from the season included a goal in his first appearance against Capalaba, a goal in his first start in a win over Moreton Bay and a key brace in a 4-2 win over Sunshine Coast Wanderers.

Gill, also a product of Brisbane City and John Paul College spent time with AD Merida’s youth system before returning home to Brisbane.

On the ball: Riley Gill.

Brought into the Roar’s NPL side in the back end of the most recent season after returning from Spain, Gill made 8 appearances for the side after making his debut in late June against Logan.

Despite that limited action, Moon was pleased to be able to see the youngster up close in training sessions in the Fraser Coast this week.

“We like Riley, he’s all energy, gets around the park well, he’s busy and loves to play forwards while defensively he doesn’t shy away from his job. He’s another player that we like a lot and we think he’s got a big future.”

Tune in to the Roar’s Australia Cup Round of 16 match against Adelaide United on Wednesday August 31 live and exclusive on 10Play.