Penrith Nepean United raising the bar


As a long-standing youth coach Craig has helped in the development of some of the great young footballers coming out of the region.
Craig?s passion for the game is undeniable but as most know that passion does not pay the bills and Craig?s private business interests have been pushed to the forefront of his commitments and seen him hang up the coaching clipboard at Penrith Nepean United.
Craig spent 2 years as the under 20 coach and 15 years as a senior youth league coach throughout the NSW system. Craig has over the last three years played an active part in seven of PNU?s young players reaching and playing first team football.
?My greatest pride comes from seeing a bunch of strong young players coming through into the first grade at PNU today. Championships are great but producing footballers is the real satisfaction, the bigger thrill is seeing great football played by skilful players.
?Development rather than winning is the key thing when working with youngsters. It is about out turning balance and technique into structured possession football, then success will come.?
Craig Long enjoyed success with the youth at Penrith Nepean United.
He took his under 18 side through a home and away season with 22 straight wins, no draws, no losses, 66 points in total.
He then took them to the under 20?s premiership two seasons ago.
?The club is in my heart and I won?t be lost altogether from it. I was proud to be one of the team that brought Penrith back to the Premier level in NSW. Now we see Penrith Nepean play at this level at the youth and the senior level.?
One of his other highlights during this period at the club was seeing both his sons? progress to the first team with Mitchell having forced his way into the team late last season under Abbas Saad and Jack being a mainstay of the first team all season long.
Mitchell has moved on to Wollongong this season but Jack will continue to fly the flag for the Long family at Penrith Nepean United.
Whilst Craig?s loss is a blow for local junior development his replacement is a man who knows a lot about top class football.
Robert Stanton was coach of the senior Sutherland Shark team last season after Ron Corry left the club and almost got the team into the playoffs.
Stanton boasts a strong footballing acumen having played over 300 NSL games, the 25th most capped player in the NSL?s history.
His career saw him play at Sydney United, Marconi, Wollongong Wolves (where he won the NSL title, the side scoring more goals than any other team in history in the competition), and Apia.
He was also an under 21 youth international for Australia and went through the Australian Institute of Sport program.
Senior coach and former Socceroo Abbas Saad is excited about what the future holds with such a progressive coaching team.
Saad had planned for Long and Danny Aboud to work together as his assistants this year and Long to also work with the under 20?s but Long?s business commitments have put pay to that plan. 
The advantage of having Aboud as sole first team assistant is that this frees up Stanton to concentrate solely on the youth side.
Putting the experience of Abbas Saad, Danny Aboud, and Robbie Stanton together creates a coaching structure that could be the envy of the TeleChoice Premier League.
The other new flavour to the Penrith Nepean side is the part time goalkeeping coach Greg Woodhouse. Years of experience in that role as well as full coaching duties sees Woodhouse the ideal man to work on the talented young goalkeepers the club has.
The new Premier League season has kicked off with Penrith Nepean United again plying their trade at CUA Stadium.
With twelve teams in the competition this year there will be added interest and you can get out and watch three games of football on the day as the under 18?s and under 20?s will be the curtain raisers for the first team.
Penrith Nepean United?s side boasts many young stars so why not come out and follow the stars of tomorrow today?
-By Stuart Jones