Five Minutes With…Jerry Kalouris

Aged just 18, National Youth League defender Jerry Kalouris has already represented Australia and won a player of the tournament award at a national youth championships.

Aged just 18, National Youth League defender Jerry Kalouris has already represented Australia and won a player of the tournament award at a national youth championships.

The talented defender has impressed with his consistent performances at the back for the Mariners in the National Youth League this season. With strength that belies his years Kalouris has often left a mark on opposing attackers who are wary of running the ball near this junior prospect.

Kalouris began his football journey very early in life, lacing up a boot at the age of four. By the time he was 15 at an age when talent tends to be judged on how you attack in a game Kalouris was earmarked as a defensive player of real potential.

His progress continued on an upward trajectory being selected to represent the Australian Schoolboys on a tour of Japan and Korea in 2008. The advent of the National Youth League has given him the chance to hone his skills while pushing for his ultimate dream of making it as professional footballer.

Jerry Kalouris talks to about representing Australia, his beginnings in football and his goals for the remainder of the campaign.

For more information about Jerry click here to see his profile page.

What was your junior club and what influenced you to take up the game?
My first junior club was Liverpool Olympic, and I was influenced to take up the game because both my parents played and I was around it at a young age. I thought I would give the game a go and began playing when I was four.

Who did you support growing up?
I supported Leeds United and was always a fan of Harry Kewell.

How were your experiences playing with the Australian schoolboys?
It was a good feeling to be picked to play in the Australian schoolboys. I got sent off in the first game that wasn-t so good though. It was a great challenge to test myself at that level and to take on teams from Japan and Korea. The games were a lot quicker than what I was used to and they were very quick and physical games.

What do you consider to be the main strengths of your game?
I would say my main strength would be my body strength in tackles. I also feel I have a good long game. I am able to get good clearances away and put through good long balls from the back.

What areas of your game do you feel you need to work on the most?
I feel I need to work on the shorter side of the game in particular short passes. I also need to work on my right foot to use it more in games.

Did winning player of the tournament at a national level convince you that you could potentially make a career out of the game?
It definitely helped convince that if I worked hard I could achieve in the game. It was a good thing to win when I got it at the National Championships in 2005 at Under 15s level.

How does playing in the NYL compare to playing in the NSW Premier League?
The National Youth League is definitely a lot quicker, probably a lot more physical, you have less time on the ball and you need to think quicker because things happen so much faster in a game.

What was the hardest thing about adjusting to life in the NYL?
There wasn-t really so much adjusting I needed to do. It was more a case of working with different people, making new friends and playing in a new team. The travel is pretty easy to get used to I-d been on long flights before so short flights and getting off a plane to play was pretty easy to adjust to.

As a defender you often come up against strikers with Hyundai A-League experience, does that make you lift your game to a new level?
It does make you lift your game but I find the best way to deal with it is just do your best, stay calm, keep it simple and just get on with it.

When defending the hardest decision is often whether to dive in or to hold your ground, what advice would you give to aspiring defenders?
My advice would definitely be to hold your ground. I-ve tried diving in and from past experience most of the time you-ll get done. I wouldn-t recommend diving in, you-ll probably get a card.

What are your own goals for the remainder of this campaign?
My goals are to finish off this season as strong as possible and try and get into a position where I can play first team football. After this season I-d like to try and force my way into a premier league first side. I think as a team we-ve performed well to get to where we are on the ladder. At the start of the season as we were getting used to each other we slacked off a bit, but we-ve trained really well and we-ve definitely improved.