Two mates debut the A-League

November 4, 2022 by Jonathan Benjamin
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Another Jewish footballer raised in Sydney’s eastern suburbs has made his A-League debut a week after one of his friends played his first match in Australia’s top league.

A mazel tov for Jake from his mother

Midfielder 18-yr-old Jake Girdwood-Reich played with Sydney FC in its 3-2 win over Macarthur Bulls last weekend and forward 20-yr-old Zac Sapsford was a member of the Western Sydney Wanderers team, which drew with Brisbane Roar the week before.

The two forged a friendship while training and playing together in the young and very talented Sydney FC NSW NPL Men’s team during the 2021/22 season before signing A-league contracts in the 2022/23 season.

Jake Girdwood-Reich has a multi-year contract with A league team Sydney FC and was awarded the Sydney FC Rising Star Award for 2022. He attended the Sydney FC Academy since the U13s and had dreamt for years of playing for Sydney FC after watching home games at their Allianz Stadium home ground near his home in Sydney’s eastern suburbs since he was a 7-yr-old.

Jake retired from NSW NPL futsal club Mascot Vipers and NSW representative futsal teams to focus on his football dreams.

Sydney FC Academy training had also given Jake the opportunity to start a national youth representative football career for Australia which has only been marred by the Covid19 pandemic and more recently by minor injuries at critical selection times for international tournaments.

His debut in front of over 7,000 spectators at the Campbelltown Sports Stadium, the home ground of the Macarthur Bulls was emotional experience for Jake. He said: “Getting off the Sydney FC team bus at Campbelltown Sports Stadium, I was thinking ‘how could I possibly be making my debut in the A-League tonight?’ – it was just so exciting.  It was so special to be warming up with the Sydney FC A-League men’s team, with players like Rhyan Grant, who I used to watch play in the old Allianz stadium as a young boy.

Sitting on the bench watching the very intense and exciting game, I was hoping for my opportunity to play. The stadium was in full voice, which made it a really great atmosphere.

Then it happened. I was to be substituted Max Burgess. I was so extremely excited but had to wait about 4 minutes until the ball went out. Max shook my hand on the sideline and congratulated me on my debut. When I got on the field, I was so proud to be making my A-League debut finally. I just wanted to help my team to seal the 3 points in an exciting and nail-biting end of the match, which we did.

 It was one of the best feelings of my life. My dreams coming true to be a professional footballer playing for Sydney FC A-League team.”

The older Sapsford signed to play for cross-city rivals WSW FC for the 2022/23 season.

Zac’s debuted for the Wanderers against the Brisbane Roar FC on October 22 in a frustrating draw in a home game at CommBank Stadium in Paramatta. He had only joined Sydney FC NSW NPL men’s team for the 2021/22 season after a season in England and many years playing for Sydney’s Jewish NSW NPL club Hakoah Sydney City East FC and their futsal teams. Zac had similar emotions and cautious optimism to Jake when he came on and shared his joy with his parents on the sideline at full time.

The two former teammates excited families were texting congratulations each other on their sons breaking into the top echelon of Australian football. Their respective A-league teams, after each recording wins last weekend, were 2nd and 3rd on the A-League competition table.

On  12th November, football history will be made again as their new A-League teams will clash in the Sydney derby at the newly built Sydney FC home ground, Allianz Stadium in Sydney’s Moore Park. This derby match is always emotionally charged, with a 40,000 full stadium crowd expected to provide the theatrical drama, with the two football mates hoping to be facing each other on the pitch.

The parents’ only wish is that their boys get on-field opportunities and game time with their respective teams over the season to develop the boys as players further. They know their boys are talented enough now to perform at a professional level, realising  their potential, resilience and ambition after so many years of dedicated training and playing to start their professional careers.


One Response to “Two mates debut the A-League”
  1. Debbi Weiss says:

    Well done! A great story and wishing both boys all the best in their careers!

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