Stefan Zinni was introduced to soccer when he was five, played for South Melbourne FC for almost 10 years and now plays as a speedy winger and midfielder for 2015 National Youth League champions, Melbourne City FC.
‘My dad (former Socceroo, Andrew Zinni) introduced me to soccer in the backyard where we’d have a kick around. I’ve always loved the game,’ says Stefan.
Stefan joined Melbourne City FC’s Youth Team two years ago at the age of 16, and found breaking into the squad challenging.
‘When I first started, it was tough having a few boys in the squad who were older and just better players. You’ve got to be professional with what you do before and after training. With recovery, what you eat, and how you look after your body.’
Melbourne City FC’s Football Operations Coordinator and La Trobe University graduate, Callum Muirhead, understands the challenges faced by young players trying to break into a club like Melbourne City FC and works hard to make this transition as easy as possible.
‘Playing for a club like this has a lot of pressures, on and off the field. You want to do your best for the club on the field, but you’ve got to represent the club in the right way off the field. That brings added pressures, especially for young players coming through,’ says Callum.
Callum was himself a young starter at Melbourne City FC (then Melbourne Heart FC), having completed a work placement at the club while studying a Bachelor of Business (Sport Management) at La Trobe University. He credits the hands-on nature of the course for giving him a head start in his career.
‘The practical element was a massive positive for me. It’s all well and good, reading stuff from textbooks and sitting in class, but to actually be thrown into the sports industry and see how things work in the real world…that was a massive positive and it really held me in good stead going forward.’
Callum graduated in 2012 and was subsequently offered a job with the club’s Youth Team. A year later, Callum was made Team Manager of the A-League team before taking over as Football Operations Coordinator.
‘Callum organises everything at the club, he prepares the itinerary for each away trip, he prepares the calendars and the schedule for each training session, when we’re training, where we’re training…he just keeps you organised,’ says Stefan.
‘It was really handy with Year 12 last year…Callum communicated between the school and the club to help balance my workload between the two. He helps ensure you’re doing well at school but also doing well on the field. We can come to Callum for anything…he’s like a guardian for all the boys.’
See more of Callum and Stefan’s story by watching this video.