How does a club replace Jason Romero? That’s a question Football NSW League One Men’s club St George City hope to have answered with the signing of Reuben Awaritefe.
After stints at both A-League academies in Central Coast Mariners and Western Sydney Wanderers. Awaritefe, son of NSL great Francis Awaritefe has made his return to Sydney’s South and with a full season on the horizon, we caught up with him to chat about his experiences and what he hopes to bring to a side who surprised us all last year.
On his time at both A-league academies, Awaritefe told Football NSW.
“Being in an A-League academy was a huge step in my improvement as a footballer and taught me what it takes to become a professional footballer.
“I first went to Central Coast Mariners and that was a huge learning curve from day 1. I was coached by Nick Montgomery and Sergio Rai. They held the players to the highest possible standard at all times and always pushed players to be training and playing at 100% every time we stepped on the pitch.
“My next academy was the Western Sydney Wanderers. I was bought into the club by Patrick Zwannswijk as he had previously coached me.
“I had a rough start to the season as I had pulled my hamstring during preseason, then only a couple of weeks later during a game I dislocated my shoulder, and I was out for another 3 to 4 weeks.
“Once I came back from recovery, I was featuring off the bench and I thought I did very well considering the amount of time I played in the goals and assists I had accumulated. I learnt a lot during my time at the Wanderers and talking to the senior players in the A-League squad helped me realise the kind of hard work that I would have to put in to get to that level.”
It’s been a busy off-season for Awaritefe who had the opportunity to go on trial at both English League two club Salford City and the Championship’s Millwall FC in their under 23’s.
“I got some very encouraging feedback from both teams, and I’ve been told I have the tools to become a professional footballer if I can match my ability with hard work and improvement within the next couple of months/years.”
Looking ahead to this season, Awaritefe has eyes on a good campaign at his old club St George City.
“I was at St George City about two years ago now and I really enjoyed my time at the club so when I had the opportunity to return, I was more than happy to be back.
“Pre-season for me individually has been a bit up-and-down. I have had a few niggling injuries here and there but as of now I’m starting to play more regularly and get the game time that I need to be prepared for the season ahead.
“As a group, we have some very good individuals and I believe the club has recruited extremely well but now it is up to the players to perform on the pitch. We are as a club are pushing for promotion and I think we have all the tools to achieve that if we can all work hard and put in the performances that I needed to achieve this goal.
“I believe I’m surrounded by a really good club with a lot of support and infrastructure that can allow me and the team to do our best and achieve our goals. While becoming better footballers is in the process and I can’t wait for the season to start.”
Joining Awaritefe at the club this season are a mix of youth and experience. With Alex Malfara and Nicholas Kalogerou recognizable acquisitions from SD Raiders and Northern Tigers alike. While young striker Mark Moric will look to compliment Awaritefe in their attack.
St George City kick off their season with a trip to Pluim Park to face Central Coast Mariners, Sunday March 13.