Jason Trifiro epitomises the heart and soul of Western Sydney Wanderers – born and raised in Winston Hills, and now on the verge of signing his first professional contract with the A-League newcomers ahead of tonight’s trial match against Blacktown Spartans.
Trifiro, 24, fell in love with football at an early age, carrying a ball everywhere he went, even practising in the house when his father’s back was turned. His parents were so sick of him smashing vases and windows in their small property that they bought a house behind Valentine Park – the heart of NSW youth football development.
“We were living in a small backyard and mum and dad got so sick of us digging it up that they bought the house behind Parklea because it made it easier for us – we would just jump the fence and would be able to train,” he said.
Trifiro would spend countless hours at the park with brother Glen, mastering the latest tricks in an attempt to mirror his football idol Maradona. So superb and advanced were his skills at a young age that he was quickly appointed the nickname ‘Tricky’ by his coaches and teammates. Although he represented Australia in the under 17s, Trifiro admits that at some point in time, he fell off the radar of the A-League.
“From Joeys I just was floating around in the state leagues,” he said. “There was probably a period when no one really knew of me.”
Sadly, it is an all too familiar story in Australian football.
A promising young junior slips through the cracks of the selection process because, despite his undeniable technique and skill, he is not ‘tall enough, strong enough or fast enough.’
Trifiro has heard it all.
“There were times when I though that maybe it wouldn’t happen,” he said. “I have heard all those things – that I wasn’t the tallest or fastest guy. But I stayed focused and maintained belief in myself. Football was first and I just knew that I always wanted to keep playing.”
Western Sydney may have produced some of Australia’s greatest players such as Brett Emerton, Harry Kewell and Tim Cahill, but the heartland has at times become a wasteland of lost and neglected young talent. It is football Darwinism at its finest.
But Trifiro’s inspiring story restores some faith – a reminder that it doesn’t matter how old you are or where you came from, if you are willing to work hard selectors will eventually have to pick you.
Prior to his breakthrough with the Wanderers, Trifiro drifted through the NSW Premier League with Marconi Stallions, Sutherland Sharks and South Coast Wolves before, two years ago, packing up his bags and heading to Melbourne to play with Northcote City in search of an elusive A-League contract.
Far from despondent, the passionate footballer persisted with the game he loved, confident that the landscape of Australian football would eventually progress to suit his style of play.
“Football evolves – and it is slowly changing in this country’,” said Trifiro. “Look what Barcelona have done; they are not the tallest players. Now coaches here are now starting to take notice and choose that smaller, more technical player. It is definitely for the better.”
Jason and Glen Trifiro were so passionate about the increasing importance of technique and skill in Australian football, that they have established their own football academy ‘Futboltec’. It is no surprise that Glen is the first to shout his brother’s praises when he heard the news about Western Sydney.
“For Jason this is just the beginning, it’s his opportunity and he knows how important it is to make the most of it,” said Glen Trifiro.”Jason is the biggest inspiration to me because I’m well aware of his journey; every step he has taken, every setback he has had, and every successful moment he has experienced. As young players growing up in the west we travelled a further distance to Westfields sports high to attend the football program. We would catch trains and buses. Jason didn’t attend his formal because he had training, he didn’t go out on Friday nights because game day was on Saturday. These are just a few examples of his commitment to football.”
Trifiro certainly realises the magnitude of his achievement, and will be proud to wear the colours of his hometown.
“To be looking for a professional deal, then to come home and play for the area where your grew up in – it would be a very incredible moment,” he said.
Meanwhile Western Sydney have launched their membership drive with prices starting from $195 for Adults, $95 for concessions and $390 for a family. Perhaps the most interesting aspect is that members will be able to vote for two seats on the inaugural board.
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