Triple treat: Why Ipswich football development reaps rewards
WHEN you lose 10 players to higher level duty, a coach can find it difficult to maintain a winning run.
However, for Ipswich Knights under-20 football mentor Bob Maclot, such a player drain means the club is doing something right in the Queensland Premier League.
Maclot is thrilled to see his third-placed team qualify for Sunday's elimination final against sixth-placed Wolves at Teralba Park.
Although watching so many of his players move between the 20's and first team, Maclot said that was his job working with head coach Andy Ogden.
"That's what we're there for,'' Maclot said, having enjoyed a 10-year coaching partnership with Ogden at Brisbane Force and the Knights.
"That's why Andy and I get on so well. It's about development.''
It has been over the past four seasons at the Knights that Maclot has seen the most significant football progress.
"We've got a good bunch of kids,'' Maclot said.
"We're starting to see the fruits of our work from the last three or four years with these boys.
"Some of the boys, Oggy's had for probably six years and they are starting to mature now.''
Among the Knights under- 20 players to have gained first-team experience this season are Matt White, Lucky Joe, Jack Mcgrath, Murray Thistlewaite, Nelson Hurry, Flyn Park, Alex Golding, Leon Nunda, DJ Barton and Matt Drummond.
Players like White, Mcgrath and Joe have become established first-team regulars, further enhancing the positive work of Maclot and Ogden.
The Knights 20's play the curtainraiser to the QPL senior competition elimination final at 5.30pm. That game features the sixth-placed Knights top team against third-placed Logan.
Ogden was pleased to have a full squad to choose from after a solid Tuesday night session and more relaxed Thursday night run against the competitive under-20 players.
"We feel quite good about ourselves,'' Ogden said, saying the Knights were "confident but not overconfident''.
Maclot also had faith his under-20 team could progress further into the final series, having twice beaten Sunday's opponents Wolves.
The Knights U20s topped the league with most goals (68), accumulating 12 wins and two draws from their 18 encounters.
That included a 6-0 win over competition leaders Logan and a 6-1 success over second-placed Rochedale.
Leading Knights goal scorers have included Drummond (11), Golding (seven) and Joe (seven).
However, wise coach Maclot said his team had to come ready to play on Sunday.
"The thing about the young kids is you don't know who is going to turn up on the day,'' Maclot said. "It's just getting their mental focus right.
"They have all got ability. Sometimes you have got to work on their attitudes.''
The Knights under-18 boys have also qualified for the first weekend of QPL finals having finished the regular season in fourth.
The Knights tackle Rochedale at Underwood Park on Saturday having won 11 of their 18 games.
Club vice-president and loyal Ipswich footballer Danny Wilson is coaching the under- 18 talents.
Maclot has also enjoyed working directly with the Knights under-18s this season. The footballing teenagers train together as a group.
"I think all three teams are a great chance of getting some-thing out of the finals,'' he said.
"It would be great to win one as well but just to see the boys' development (is most satisfying).
"Next year will be a big learning curve for a lot of the boys.
"I think quite a few will step up next year.''
QPL elimination final: Sunday (5.30pm) - Ipswich Knights v Logan at Teralba Park.
QPL U20 elimination final: Sunday (3pm) - Ipswich Knights v Wolves at Teralba Park.
QPL U18 elimination final: Saturday (1pm) - Ipswich Knights v Rochedale at Underwood Park.