Trinity footballers spread to four continents
Trinitarians are taking the phrase “the world game” at face value, travelling abroad to further their football skills and careers on the global stage.
Trinity students have set up base in England, Italy, Brazil, and the US, adding an international flavour to the growing list of players making their presence felt with A-League clubs.
Liam Rippon (2022) left at the end of Year 11 to press his claims in Brazil, Thomas Petrovski (2025) moved to England, and Sebastien Portolesi (2022) is pursuing his career in Italy.
The trail abroad had already been blazed by Chris Marques (2015), who won a scholarship with then EPL club Stoke City, currently plays for NWS Spirit in Australia’s NPL League 1, and was a casual coach at Trinity for many years until 2022.
William Todd (2017) was another who went abroad on a scholarship. The former Sydney FC U18 captain played football at Columbia University and now works as a paralegal in New York.
Their journeys exemplify the popularity of football at Trinity, where it is the number one winter sport with more than 780 players, or 43 per cent of the Year 4-12 cohort.
Their endeavours are backed up by a support system designed to ensure the game helps deliver the school motto of “growing good men”.
The journey from Summer Hill to South America is a rare one, and Liam Rippon is hoping to make the most of his opportunity with Artsul Football Club in Rio, including learning to speak Portuguese and playing against the famous Flamengo team.
“He is one of only two people at the club fluent in English, making him a valuable bridge between cultures and languages,” reports his father, Adam.
“The values of persistence, humility, and respect that were instilled in him during his time at Trinity have been critical to his success in Brazil. They continue to guide him in his pursuit of excellence both on and off the field.
“The support and guidance provided by Trinity have undoubtedly contributed to Liam’s growth and development.
“We hope his story can inspire and motivate other students to embrace new opportunities, overcome challenges, and pursue their dreams with unwavering determination.”
Thomas Petrovski, who moved to school in England after playing in Trinity’s 7, 8, and 9A teams, says living in the UK has been a “real eye-opener”.
“It has provided me with great opportunities, and I’ve had a wonderful experience,” said Thomas, whose Brooke House College and Football Academy is attached to English Premier League side Leicester City and is run by ex-Southampton and Leeds player Mickey Adams.
“Having to board at the school and be independent has given me greater self-confidence in looking after myself and has assisted in further developing my organisational skills.
“I’ve been able to train and develop in a professional environment and had opportunities to train at Premier League training grounds.”
Thomas, who trains two hours every day after school and plays a match every week, credited Trinity’s Field Studies Centre with helping prepare him to move abroad and be more self-reliant.
William Todd described studying and playing football for Columbia as “definitely one of the best experiences of my life”.
The centre-back travelled around the US playing in front of big crowds, in a professional environment with outstanding facilities.
“Football also played an important role in the development of my emotional maturity by forcing me to deal with failure and adversity in a high-pressure environment.
“Playing on different teams helped me develop interpersonal skills as I was made to manage differing personalities and complex social dynamics in a team setting.
“There is no doubt in my mind that I would not have been as successful in other areas of life, such as school, if it was not for football. It forced me to have great time management, discipline, and a strong work ethic.”
He said Trinity was “pivotal” in his footballing journey.
“I still tell people today that I would not be where I am now without the opportunities I was given during my time at Trinity.
“The high quality of academics and sport at the School allowed me to flourish in both settings without compromising my development in either area.
“The football program is one of the best in the country, I believe, and the coaching and guidance provided by Mr Gray (Director of Football 2015-23 Luke Gray) and others made me a far better player than I would have been if I just played for club teams, as many others do.
“While some saw the requirement to play for the School as a burden, I saw it as a blessing – one that furthered my love of the game and gave me some of my favourite memories on a football field, such as the 2013 Bill Turner Cup or the 2015 1st XI undefeated CAS season.”
Mr Gray said the Trinity programme was designed to promote skills, development, and wellbeing on and off the pitch.
“All students have access to a fitness centre where strength and conditioning staff organise tailored programs as well as recovery, activation, and warm up exercises.
“We run seminars on mindset, nutrition, recovery, leadership, goal setting, and strength and conditioning.
“Coaches, including specialised goalkeeping staff, are equipped with the latest technology providing video analysis and statistics for teams and individuals, and physios are on hand at many matches.”
The coaches include former professional players and Olympians in John Gibson, the current Director of Football, and Zlatko Arambasic.
Every two years the School takes Years 10 and 11 students on tour to Europe where they train with professional clubs, play games against other schools and clubs, and watch professional matches.
Trinity football’s highest achiever so far is Adam Dapuzzo (Captain of Football in 2004) with A-League championships at Newcastle Jets and Western Sydney Wanderers.
Connor O’Toole (2014) is still playing in the A-League for Western United.
Ben Vidaic (2005) while playing for Sydney FC found himself up against LA Galaxy and David Beckham at Stadium Australia. Nicholas Sullivan (2016) also made it to the A-League.
Oscar Fryer (’23) joined Sydney FC U18s and progressed to first grade in the NPL. He also toured the UK with the Australian Schoolboys team.
Trinity’s ties to English football extend into the boardroom – former School parent Clem Morfuni owns English League 2 team Swindon Town.
This article originally appeared in our December 2023 Edition of Trinity News which you can view on our online digital bookshelf.