Schools Premier League playing a vital role in Thomas Waddingham’s journey to A-League  

The importance of the Schools Premier League program has been recognised through the recent signing of Queensland youngster Thomas Waddingham to the club.  

Waddingham came through Kelvin Grove’s SPL program and his development was overlooked by Kelvin Grove SPL coordinator Jason Tobin. 

The SPL is set up to provide young players in schools with an opportunity to work at personal development and growth to achieve their goals, such as Thomas Waddingham earning an A-League contract at Brisbane Roar.  

The program looks to develop more young aspiring footballers like Waddingham, and Tobin highlights the way in which SPL works with football clubs to get the most out of its players.  

“The purpose of the SPL schools is to give kids a platform to play as a curriculum-based subject, meaning that it doesn’t interfere with club football which is a massive positive for our players,” Tobin said.  

“It means we’re working together with clubs to try get the best out of these kids. We’re able to change the way we train in schools because we’re training to focus on the individual improvement of an athlete,” he added.  

Tobin demonstrated how proud he is of how far Waddingham has come from the program to now signing his first professional contract with the Roar.  

“I brought him down from Cairns and he came into my program. When he first came to us, you could see that Tom was a good player. We knew he was going to go into the Roar Academy at that time and seeing him play in that competition, it was very evident that he had something that a lot of kids didn’t,” Tobin said.  

“The thing with Tom is that he was an amazing footballer, but it was the type of kid he was. He was the best player technically in our program, but he worked ten-times harder, and he was a genuine young man.” 

Tobin spoke about the cooperation carried out between Kelvin Grove’s SPL and Waddingham’s club football to ensure Waddingham’s mindset and game fitness were in the best condition possible.  

“The extra levels they get being in a school environment, with their mates at the same time, makes it an enjoyable experience but it’s a very professional set up. It’s a subject for them at school, it contributes to their ATAR,” Tobin said.  

“Playing in the competition was a good thing for him because it allowed him to show where his level, he grew fast from that. Having the regular training sessions on top of the Roar sessions, he would get four extra sessions that every other kid. The management of our program was to facilitate what’s best for him.”