Jaden Fidra: The Tasmanian-based prospect back from a Spanish adventure
We are about halfway through the NPL Tasmania season. It looks like Devonport's title to lose at this stage, as they sit first with a four-point lead and are unbeaten after nine games with 25 points. But Jaden Fidra, South Hobart's newest signing, says his side, sitting in fourth and 11 points off the pace, can still impact the title race.
"We’ve already shown great determination and personality coming back from tough games to win, and we have shown very good moments of play," Fidra told Front Page Football recently.
"We have room for improvement, but the team has put in the effort and feels ready for the next couple of months, which are really important. Important not only for the players but for the club and the community of South Hobart. We are up for the challenge and will be looking for success."
But Fidra's career didn't begin in Tasmania. It started in Queensland, and after seven years in the Football Queensland development side, then a short two-year stint at Brisbane Strikers, Fidra wanted a new challenge. Enter Lions FC.
Fidra's time at Lions FC came with success, as he made his NPL youth league debut and won the league title at U15, U16, and U18 levels three years in a row. Fidra even scored in the 2021 NPL U18s Grand Final, a 2-0 win over Brisbane Roar, adding to his tally of 11 goals for the season.
Fidra concluded his time in Queensland when he sought to play first-team football for the first time at a senior NPL level. He chose Tasmania and one of its Northern clubs, Launceston City (LCFC).
"City was a really great club for me. They welcomed me with open arms when I moved down from Queensland. I noticed immediately what a fantastic and supportive community they have. Starting there was great for my confidence and prepared me for senior football," Fidra said.
Fidra lit up the NPL Tasmania with his exciting dribbling ability and has some memorable highlights from last year. He netted a late winner for a ten-man Launceston City against champions Glenorchy Knights at KGV Park. Former City talisman Gediminas Kruša constructed the well-put-together goal for Fidra to finish in a memorable win.
After helping City to a respectful fifth place, Fidra's performances caught the attention of a scout with Spanish-based agency GM Global Sports.
"It all happened very unexpectedly when they got a hold of my 2022 season highlights reel with LCFC. He (the scout) offered me the last spot to train in Spain with an associated academy of La Liga's RCD Mallorca, Tercera Federación side CD Llosetense," Fidra explained.
"I literally flew out that week with the plan of spending the three months of our summer off-season over there. After the first couple of training sessions, they signed me up for a spot to play with the reserves side."
Staying in the Spanish village Biniamar, on the island of Mallorca, Fidra was accommodated with rooming alongside other players from across the globe.
"Luckily, many of them spoke English, so fitting in and feeling comfortable in the new environment was quite an eye-opening but enjoyable process," he added.
Fidra spoke highly of the standard and how the football differed so much from the Australian style, even at the lower levels of Spanish football.
"The quality of football in Spain is very high and technical, so I was becoming a better footballer with my ability and mental gameplay."
After three months of full-time training in Spain, Fidra's academy time was about to be rewarded. Primera Federación club CD Atlético Baleares gave him a trial with the third-division side. Unfortunately for Fidra, he picked up an injury during this process and was heartbroken.
"I was pretty devastated as they had selected me to come and train with them in Palma after [the] Christmas break. But due to the nature of my injury, I was unable to go as I had to rest it. After much thought and consideration, and due to the fact my visa was running out, I decided to return to Australia to allow my injury to heal correctly," Fidra said.
Returning to Australian shores and weighing up his options, National Second Tier hopefuls South Hobart FC (SHFC) approached Fidra ahead of the 2023 NPL Tasmania season.
"South Hobart has been very supportive and committed to aiding my return to full health, strength, and match fitness. I’m finally starting to get back to where I was, and it's hopefully just the start of good things. I’m excited for what’s to come in the season and hoping for a successful one with SHFC," Fidra said.
Fidra praised Ken Morton, now in his fifteenth year as head coach, for aiding his return to full fitness.
"I had previously been impressed with the technical skill of South Hobart and the coaching style of Ken. Ken has allowed me to slowly build back to the player I was prior to the injury setback," he added.
Fidra played the full ninety minutes in South Hobart's 3-2 win over Kingborough in round eight, the first time he completed an entire match for the first team this season. He starred with two assists and says that despite injury setbacks, he still holds onto his dream of becoming a professional footballer.
"My long-term goals are to achieve playing at the highest level in Australia or to possibly return to Europe," he said.
Fidra closed our chat by noting that he owes all his success to his father, his biggest fan and the man helping his European aspirations.
"My dad, who is my greatest supporter, has German ancestry, and he is working towards getting my German passport, so returning to Europe could also be very possible," he said.
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Fidra and his South Hobart teammates now prepare for the Lakoseljac Cup Final against Devonport Strikers tomorrow, with silverware on the line.
"We've been training hard and preparing well for the final. The cup means a lot to the club and the squad is ready for the challenge," Fidra concluded.
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