Young Jets coach providing the link between youth team and A-League

Riccardo Marchioli is barely in his 30s but he already has extensive experience in Australian football, and he is working closely with Arthur Papas to link the club at all levels.

The key to any successful manager and his team is the people around them. Arthur Papas is rebuilding the identity of Newcastle Jets in the Isuzu UTE A-League but he isn’t doing it alone.

There is Arthur Diles, Huss Skenderovic and Gary van Egmond but there’s also Riccardo Marchioli.

The youngest coach in the history of NPL Victoria club Brunswick City, Marchioli is now providing the link between Newcastle’s youth and academy to Papas’ senior team in the Hunter Valley.

An integral part of the first-team set-up in 2021-22, Marchioli is now A-Leagues Youth head coach and Boys head of academy.

“Often there’s a disconnect in the playing style and habits of youth teams compared to how the first team plays,” Marchioli told KEEPUP.

“But if we can have that consistency – and that’s part of my role also in Newcastle – making sure there’s that link between what the first team does and what our youth teams are doing.

“Then our junior players and families can come to A-League games and see an ideal version of the way we’re asking them to play in youth games.”

When you sit down and speak to Marchioli, it is easy to forget he only celebrated his 31st birthday in March. But with the support of Papas, he is aiming to remodel the structure of the junior ranks to the benefit of the senior side.

An overhaul of the Jets youth team, including dropping the average
age to just 17.5 years, culminated in the club’s first Premiership with a game in hand.

Averaging almost three goals per game, the young team won Football NSW Men’s League 3 at a canter and they have since qualified for the Grand Final.

“It’s about the passion that you impart upon those you come in contact with,” he said.

“I live and breathe this game and I’ve definitely made many mistakes along the way but if I can transmit even a tiny amount of that passion then hopefully I can leave people and places better than how I find them and give each human the best football experience they’ve ever had.”

Marchioli completed his FFA ‘A License’ by just 25 years of age, being told at the time he was the youngest to acquire the license.

The ambitious young Australian gained five years of experience as an NPL Technical Director, and coached the Brunswick City first team for two years in NPL2 Victoria – their youngest-ever coach.

Marchioli also previously coached in the Women’s Premier League (before the NPL rebrand) and Football Victoria’s state program. Not to mention his work as an analyst for A-League Men side Melbourne Victory in 2020-2021.

But it was at Brunswick where he really made a name for himself. While on a limited budget, that team remained one of the most progressive within the semi-professional structure under Marchioli.

“As a semi-professional head coach, you can’t demand too much of a club in terms of financial resources,” Marchioli said.

“We were progressive in the way we trained within those resources and how we played. We were the first club in the NPL to introduce the VEO camera system (now commonly seen across many local grounds) and we self-funded GPS units to capture physical data related to how we wanted to play.”

Like many, he has been inspired by the work of Celtic manager and Aussie trailblazer Ange Postecoglou.

Marchioli still recalls his first ever NSL match – it featured the feeder team of his junior club (Meadow Park in Melbourne) – Carlton SC – and Postecoglou’s South Melbourne at Optus Oval.

The former Brisbane Roar and Melbourne Victory boss remains Marchioli’s biggest inspiration on his journey in football, and he detailed the experience of his access inside the inner sanctum of Postecoglou’s setup during his Socceroos tenure.

“Going back to that game [Carlton v South Melbourne], I remember being a Carlton supporter in inverted commas because that was the team that our club was linked to, but I remember South Melbourne being so good,” Marchioli said.

“I just remember coming away from that game, thinking in the car, how come I’m not a South Melbourne fan? I was probably too young to understand and I probably wouldn’t have been able to tell you why. That link to Ange’s football continued. I tried to watch the Young Socceroos highlights where possible when he was in charge.

“Once he took over Brisbane Roar, that was the spark reignited again. That was around the time I had started coaching and it was the time I knew I wanted to coach first-team football eventually. Watching Ange’s Brisbane Roar up close and live.

“One of the best experiences I had was as a volunteer at Melbourne
Heart during that time and getting to sit at AAMI Park, right behind
Ange’s bench hearing every word being said during the match. Just
little moments like that brought my passion to life.

“I probably learned more there than the first two or three years of coaching to be honest and took a lot of things on to the B License that year. I was obviously so excited when he took charge of our national team and the success that followed.

“I’ve had the opportunity to see a couple of his sessions pretty close
up, one before the 2017 Confederations Cup, which I’ll forever be grateful for. To have the chance to go into a closed session at AAMI Park and see the national team up close with virtually no one around. As a young coach, it’s something you don’t forget. Those are the little things that spark the fire and push you to keep going.

“Now seeing his success at one of the world’s biggest clubs, gives Aussie coaches like me the confidence that perhaps we’re not as far from the level as we’re told and that maybe those self-imposed limits that we like to place on ourselves as a football country are not as true as made out.

“The key, I think, is the indestructible belief in an idea, in how the game should be played and a process which brings that to life. Then it’s about the daily quality of the work and for that you need to believe in it down to your bones.”