Football Federation Australia (FFA) and Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) today announced the introduction of two new awards to recognise players representing Australia’s junior national teams.
FFA Chairman Chris Nikou said the awards would celebrate the overall conduct and commitment of a player representing an Australian junior team that aligns with and amplifies the values of Australian football.
The awards will be named after two players who exemplify the standards, commitment and courage in representing Australia at youth international level in Dylan Tombides and Collette McCallum.
“Dylan Tombides was a superb talent whose performances for Australia at youth level caught the attention of the Australian football community. He was tragically lost to cancer and his name will forever be associated with immense talent, sacrifice and inspiration.”
“Collette was also an incredibly talented young footballer who set the on-field standards that we now see from today’s Matildas. Testament to this is that no footballer, outside of our current crop of emerging players, has represented Australia more times at youth international level.”
PFA Chief Executive John Didulica said the Dylan Tombides Medal will be inaugurated and awarded annually to recognise an Australian male footballer as selected from the Under 17 (Joeys), Under 20 (Young Socceroos) and Under 23 (Olyroos) teams.
Similarly, the Collette McCallum Medal will be awarded to the best female player from the Under 17 (Westfield Junior Matildas) and Under 20 (Westfield Young Matildas) teams.
“There is no greater thrill for a player than putting on the green and gold for the first team, so it is wonderful to be able to formally recognise those young players who are hoping to create history, whilst acknowledging two players in Dylan and Collette who have added their own pages to the game’s story.”
Fox Sports broadcaster Daniel Garb, who is an ambassador for the Dylan Tombides Foundation said; “I’m absolutely delighted that after a long period of discussion we’ve landed on the perfect way to honour Dylan Tombides annually in Australian football which was long overdue.”
“Chris Nikou at the FFA and John Didulica at the PFA deserve credit for being on the front foot in ensuring this happened.
"Dylan shot to prominence with our national youth teams and this initiative will do the same for many others along with our young Matildas.”
Dylan’s mother, Tracey Tombides, said it was a tremendous honour for all of the family.
“To have Dylan recognised by Australian Football for his devotion and talent in the sport he truly lived for is a great privilege. We are hugely thankful to the FFA and PFA for making this happen.”
“Dylan lived for football displaying a professionalism and dedication that carried him through his toughest days. To represent his country at the highest level was his ultimate ambition.
"Having to make a choice to play for England or Australia early on in his career was one of the easiest decisions he ever had to make. He loved pulling on that Australian shirt,” she said.
It is proposed that each year, the head coaches of each national team will nominate two stand-out players and a panel of former players will recommend which player should be considered for the medal. The recommended players will be presented to FFA’s Chief Executive Officer and Chief Executive of the PFA for ratification.
The inaugural Tombides and McCallum honours will be awarded at the PFA’s annual awards event, the Alex Tobin Medal, later this year.