Mariners announce four new scholarship recipients

The Central Coast Mariners are delighted to announce the signing of Dean Larson, Olayinka Sunmola, Maksim Kasalovic and Anthony Pavlesic on scholarship deals. 

The four youngsters will join the first team for regular full-time training, learning daily off our A-League players. All four are ready to continue to progress in the Mariners Academy as leaders, marking the next step in their development as footballers. 

A ball winning midfielder, Maksim Kasalovic has already had a taste of first team football this season for the Mariners. Coming on as a substitute for the Central Coast in our Round of 32 Australia Cup match against Sydney FC last year, the midfielder has since been a mainstay in the Mariners NPL first grade side. 

Kasalovic made his first A-League Men’s matchday squad appearance last weekend against the Wanderers, being named on the card at CommBank Stadium.

The midfielder is looking to continue to develop his game as a leader of the Academy first grade team, while learning from our A-League side.

An ever-reliable presence in the heart of defence for our NPL first grade side, Dean Larson has also been rewarded with a scholarship contract.

Having played every minute of the NPL competition for the Mariners so far this season, Larson has impressed in a leadership role for the side. Since joining the club six years ago as an under 15, the defender has been a mainstay throughout the age groups.

Olayinka Sunmola has been awarded a scholarship deal, having moved to the Mariners from Mount Druitt at the beginning of the season. A fast and powerful forward, Sunmola was handed his A-League debut in our recent trip to Brisbane. 

Coming off the bench with five minutes to go in that match, Sunmola looked confident and threatening in his first A-League stint. The striker has also featured in two NPL games so far this season. 

Recovering from an injury that has left him sidelined for the past few weeks, Sunmola is almost ready to return for the NPL first grade team as they build into their season.

Australia’s under 17 captain Anthony Pavlesic joined the Mariners at the beginning of the season from Western Sydney Wanderers. 

A keeper with experience well beyond his years, Pavlesic has played one match for the Academy Under 20’s side so far this season, stopping a penalty in a 4-1 win against the Wanderers. 

The goalkeeper has since been away overseas, having captained the Joeys in the Antalya Youth Cup in Turkey. He has also been trialling with clubs around Europe, having stints in Germany with both Bayern Munich and Bayer Leverkusen, as well as Dutch giants Ajax. 

Pavlesic has returned to the Mariners on a scholarship deal to continue his work with the academy and first team.

Mariners A-League Men’s head coach Nick Montgomery is pleased to have secured the four players on scholarship deals and is excited to see what their future holds. 

“Scholarships are an incredibly important part of the club and would not be possible without the support of Anton Tagliaferro and the support of the chairman. The Mariners is built on giving young players opportunities and time to develop. We want to continue the success of developing youth,” he said.

“This is the next phase of their development and I look forward to watching them develop as footballers.”

The Mariners are able to offer these players scholarships as a result of the generous support of the TAG foundation. The organisation gives vital funds for promising young footballers to train full time with the first team, helping them develop in their footballing careers. 

The program, which is run through the support of TAG Foundation founder Anton Tagliaferro, has helped support the development of numerous current first team players and many who have moved overseas.

Former graduates include Josh Nisbet, Jacob Farrell, Lewis Miller, Gianni Stensness, Garang Kuol, Alou Kuol and Jing Reec, with many of them currently plying their trade in top leagues across the world.

The club would like to thank both the TAG Foundation and Anton Tagliaferro for their continued support in the development of young footballers on the Central Coast. Read more about the partnership HERE!