A FRESH-faced group of teenagers on Wednesday took the first step towards forging football careers at the highest level.
North Ballarat Rebels invited 31 Warrnambool region footballers to trial with the TAC Cup club ahead of season 2013.
They are about a quarter of the more than 100 youngsters to trial from western Victoria.
Other training bases are at Ballarat, Hamilton and Horsham.
The final squad will have 45 players.
The Warrnambool boys had their first training session under the guidance of coach Jeremy Gleeson, co-ordinator Jeremy Mitchem and assistant Chris McLaren.
Gleeson said just two of the group — Jayden Whitehead and Ashiel Dau — remained from the Rebels’ 2012 under 18 squad.
“A lot of the kids have come through the system, through the under 16s and progressed into the under 18 training list,” he said.
“A few of them have had a season or two in the system.
“There are a few who are getting their chance to show us what they’ve got.”
The Rebels will train on Mondays and Wednesdays, so not to clash with cricket training, in November and December.
A physical testing session will be at Brauer College next Wednesday.
Gleeson said pre-Christmas training would include “heaps of ball work with a bit of endurance work thrown in there for a fitness base”.
“After Christmas the boys will have a training program through most of January to follow,” he said.
“We’ll get our hands on them when school goes back and go straight into training and sprint work.
“Hopefully their fitness base has been maintained over Christmas.”
Of the 31 taking part, 26 come from Hampden league clubs, four are at Warrnambool and District league clubs and one — Curtis Ryan — has a basketball background.
The Rebels have also released a 26-player list of Warrnambool region teenagers trialling for the under 16 squad, coached by Noel Mugavin.
There are 21 Hampden league players and five Warrnambool and District league players.
The region’s other TAC Cup club, the Geelong Falcons, has also named its initial squad of 91 players and begins pre-season trainings on Monday.