Unknown, school doesn't provide
The blazing Aussie sun beat down on my exposed skin as I prepared for my first NPL soccer trial. Following a triumphant season with my club's and school's A team, as well as playing up two age groups, I thought I had the world at my feet. Despite starting to play just a few years prior, I felt like I was prepared, equipped to rise to the occasion. Naive to the strenuous struggle which was about to transpire.
NPL teams only have one goalkeeper per age group, and most clubs had already offered theirs a retention spot, so, performing well doesn't necessarily result in success, put simply, I was not selected. This prompted me to trial at my backup club. Upon arriving at the facilities, they advised me to put on a bib and join the group already warming up. I grew confused as they had informed that there were separate keeper trials, but I went with the flow. Unknowing that these trials were for younger age groups, consequently, automatically rejected.
When I received the two emails regarding their decisions, I was firmly brought back to Earth, head in hands. However, I was determined to work harder. Therefore, when my U15 coach sent emails concerning pre-season practice in boxing, I instantly signed up, still optimistic that one day I can summit the highest peak. On the first day of the sessions I walked straight into the gym expecting a full room filled with chatter, but it was empty... The only person who turned up, was me. For the whole pre-season, I trained one on one with an instructor, during which, I got significantly stronger, more agile, honing my reflexes as well as receiving high-quality coaching in a new sport.
Later that year, an invitation was extended to my club to trial for the Melbourne Victory Academy. I attended the trial more confident in my physical ability and determined to get a spot. In the scorching sun, I played my heart out, ensuring it stays on the pitch after. They claimed they would reply to all successful applicants within 48 hours. My heart sank when that deadline had passed. That was it... Possibly my only chance... Blown! Despite this, I pondered on one of my past trials, overlooked as I was too shy to speak up, so I took a leap of faith and contacted to the coach in a last-ditch tackle. He apologized for not informing me that I had made it to the next phase but congratulated me for being the only one at my club to make it. This phase was intense, everyone there apart from me had recently won nationals with the state team. The quality of players was drastically better, the pace significantly higher, even the goalkeepers were more technically adept than any of my previous team's players. However, I kept ‘grinding' and kept up. When I finally received an email notifying me that I was accepted into the program I leapt with joy, pumping my fists at every opportunity. The year that followed was truly a turbulent one, one filled with numerous injuries, but an experience which I will cherish for the rest of my life, not only for the newfound friendships but also the higher quality of competition which allowed me to step out of my comfort zone.
As I reflect on my tumultuous journey from 2016 and 2017, I have realized that not making the two NPL teams were truly blessings in disguise, not only have I improved considerably on the pitch, but I've also grown as a person off it, ensuring to be more open when something’s wrong.