By Devante Clut, Sydney United 58 midfielder

On Saturday, on the morning of the Australia Cup final, I’ll be out coaching kids, alongside my teammate Glen Trifiro.

Later in the day, I’ll be heading to Commbank Stadium for one of the biggest games for Sydney United since the National Soccer League days.

Glen and I coach young kids through Futboltec, which is a full-time job. It complements our careers as semi-pro footballers. Every day we’re out on the pitch from 6am and finish at 8.30pm for coaching.

It’s full on, but I feel energised by it. I love taking what I have learned from my own football career and sharing it with young kids. If we can help kids fall in love with the game, and develop the next generation, I feel like I am making a positive impact.

Having played in the A-League and the NPL, there are plenty of differences between pro and semi pro football, but the biggest difference is the fact you have to juggle two – or even three – jobs.

In our semi-final win over Brisbane, Chris Payne turned the game around on his head with that incredible flick over his defender for Glen to sweep home on the volley. The next day, Glen was back coaching kids in the morning and Payney was back on the tools as a plumber. In between coaching, Glen goes to GIOCA warehouse that he is a partner in.

There are countless stories of players working on match days or the day after a big Cup tie. Teachers, plumbers, coaches, doctors – you name it.

It’s part of the beauty of the Australia Cup, having semi-professional players up against fully pro A-League clubs.

At the moment I’m working seven days a week, and doing 40-45 hours, in addition to playing and training with United.

One advantage that has helped us this year is that we have a huge amount of professional experience in the team.

Glen’s played A-League, Asian Champions League, you name it. Patrick Antelmi is a great player with a lot of skill and experience. Most of the boys have had A-League experience or emerged through A- Leagues academies or even overseas.

Right now, at United, you wouldn’t really say that there are a lot of young players on the scene. It’s a lot of boys that have had that experience at that top level who have played top-level competitive games.

They’ve experienced a high level of pressure already in their careers, so the Cup final against another A-League opponent isn’t that daunting. In every game – especially against A-League opposition – we’ve had nothing to lose.

That’s why this week, finals week, everyone has been buzzing. We have our full team back and everyone is putting their hand up for selection.

It’s perfect timing for the final. We’ve had a lot of injuries all year and had a below average season in the NPL, but our Cup run has been pretty much the opposite.

Through our Cup run, we have been able to gel a lot more and build momentum. When you have that momentum, everything falls into place. We have belief as a group and as individuals, and we’re kind of just riding the wave.

Every single player has stepped up and we have just taken it game by game. As typical as it sounds, we’re just going to approach this final like any other game and enjoy it.

I feel like that’s our advantage. We can kind of turn around and say ‘we got this far’. We’re proud because we’re the first club outside the A-League that has made it to the final.

I don’t think I’ll understand the scale of this experience until it’s over. I think a lot of boys won’t really understand the size of it until we reflect on it later.

It’s been huge for the club and the community. When we beat Brisbane, there were fans and young kids running on the pitch. You looked around and there were old men crying because this club means so much. It was just so emotional for them.

These young kids now want to play for our club and emulate our success.

They want to represent the badge at any level, just because there’s pride, there’s history. From what we’ve achieved so far, they might now grow up wanting to play for Sydney United and go through the ranks and develop as a really good player with a lot of passion.

For me, I feel like that’s probably the most rewarding part of this whole process. It’s pretty cool to think that both my jobs – coaching and playing semi-pro football – I can inspire young kids to play this beautiful game.