Breeding ground: Witherdin latest star pupil from Lambton High

EMERGING TALENT: Joel Witherdin trains with the Jets yesterday.- Picture by Kitty Hill
EMERGING TALENT: Joel Witherdin trains with the Jets yesterday.- Picture by Kitty Hill

THERE must be something in the bubblers at Lambton High School that helps it produce talented soccer players.

Hot on the heels of 16-year-old Ben Kantarovski's marvellous A-League debut for the Jets two weeks ago, schoolmate Joel Witherdin has been named the NSW Combined High Schools Errea Cup player of the year.

Witherdin, 17, was central defender for the Lambton High side who reached last week's final of the statewide competition.

On top of that success, Witherdin has recently been selected for the Jets youth squad.

Lambton High were defeated 2-0 by Epping Boys High in the final.

Witherdin played a central role in Lambton High's progression to the final two in NSW, scoring a double in the school's 4-0 win over Oatley High in the quarter-final.

Lambton beat Mitchell High 1-0 in the semi-final to set up the match against Epping Boys High.

Kantarovski was unable to play in the Errea Cup due to professional commitments, but his younger brother Alex, 15, played midfield for the Lambton High.

"We didn't expect to get to the final eight or anything, so to get to the final two was a bonus," Witherdin said.

Witherdin has spent the last couple of months training with the Jets youth squad.

The side will play a trial tomorrow against Northern NSW State League champions Broadmeadow Magic before their season kicks off on September 26 against Adelaide United at Hindmarsh Stadium. The youth league includes seven teams and will run for 21 rounds.

Witherdin said training with the Jets youth squad, under coach Craig Deans, was fast-tracking his development.

"It's bringing the best out of me not just the skill part, but the mental part as well," he said.

At a local level, Witherdin has just finished a season with Northern NSW State League side South Cardiff in first grade, after he transferred from Azzurri looking for an opportunity.

But with his Jets youth squad commitments, Witherdin could soon be leaving his days of local soccer behind.