Far North Queensland siblings Molly and Thomas Waddingham are proof that the Talent Support Program is delivering opportunities for regional footballers.
Molly and Thomas, who grew up in Cairns, currently live in Brisbane and this season have broken into the National Premier Leagues Queensland.
Both have previously attended TSP State Carnivals as part of Far North Queensland TSP squads. Thomas, 16, can still recall the moment he was identified in 2019.
“I was down in Brisbane for a TSP Carnival, and I remember Warren Moon called my dad saying that he saw me and that he wanted me at Brisbane Roar,” he said.
At the time, Moon was the Roar Academy General Manager, scouting the carnival for up-and-coming players. Now, he is the head coach of the Roar’s A-League side.
“We at Brisbane Roar work hard to ensure we’re fully across both metro and regional centres for talent identification in Queensland,” said Moon.
“Thomas is someone we identified in collaboration with FQ. There’s a high level of talent in regional areas and we are always looking.”
Thomas remembers being “quite shocked,” that someone of Moon’s profile was watching, adding that “it was really good to hear that someone saw me as a good talent.”
After scoring 30 goals in 16 appearances for his local club last year in the FNQ Premier Youth League, Thomas moved south to join the Brisbane Roar Academy, where he has played for both the U18 and U23 NPL sides this season.
“For Brisbane Roar, I’ve played left wing, striker, right wing, centre mid and attacking mid, so I’ve played quite a few positions. It’s been really good,” said Thomas.
Likewise, his older sister Molly has been a revelation in the defensive midfield role for Moreton Bay United, where she is under the tutelage of former QAS coach David Da Silva.
“I’ve really enjoyed the transition from playing in Cairns to Brisbane. I’m still trying to improve, but it’s made me a better player,” said Molly, 18.
First identified by Da Silva at the 2018 National Youth Championships in Coffs Harbour, Molly played at the previous TSP State Carnivals in 2019 and 2020.
“TSP is a great way to stay connected to the city footballers, because you all follow the same curriculum throughout Queensland. It means we implement what the city players have, but in the regional areas,” she said.
FQ State Technical Director Gabor Ganczer said he was pleased with the Waddingham siblings’ progress and looked forward to seeing more talented regional players at the upcoming TSP Carnival at Meakin Park.
“Thomas and Molly Waddingham are just two examples of the many young regional players who have been spotted at our TSP Carnivals,” said Ganczer.
“Thomas has been earmarked by the Australia U17 coach Trevor Morgan as a player to watch, and Molly was selected for the QAS team that competed at Football Australia’s NTC Challenge in Canberra in 2019.
“These TSP Carnivals are the best opportunity for young Queenslanders from around the state who are looking for a pathway from regional football to the NPL as well as state and national teams.”
While Molly and Thomas now have their sights set on higher honours, it all began by being identified at a TSP Carnival.
“In Cairns, there weren’t as many opportunities or people watching, but TSP allowed us to be seen by coaches in Brisbane,” said Thomas.