WELL-KNOWN for its strong support of rugby league, the Central Highlands is now fostering a raft of up-and-coming soccer superstars.
Emerald’s Zac Wood,16, made the top 13 out of about 100 contestants at the Melbourne trials of Fox 8’s reality television show Football Superstar.
The program gives ordinary kids the chance to secure a contract with an A-League football team, complete with university scholarship and accommodation.
The young hopeful’s dreams were dashed, however, when he was told by organisers he was ineligible for a football contract because of his age.
“They came up to me halfway through the trials and told me I was two months too young to take on an A-League contract,” Zac said.
“But they asked if I was coming back next year and I said I would, so I guess I’ll just look to next year.”
Zac was well on his way to football stardom, accruing one of the highest scores at that stage in the television competition.
Just three spots outside Melbourne’s top 10, Zac came agonisingly close to playing in the Australia-wide, city versus city playoff.
For now, Zac will continue developing his skills with Emerald Celtics in the CH competition and brushing shoulders with the
semi-professional Capricorn Cougars in Rockhampton.
Zac said while he was completely focused on the job at hand, the ultimate aim is to play at the top.
“Even just to have the chance to play in the A-League would be a dream come true,” he said.
“I know what to expect now from the television competition so I’ll just keep going with my training, get fit and work at it.”
Another Emerald soccer star on the rise is 13-year-old Luke Elliot.
Elliot plays as part of the Junior Premier League in Rockhampton, alongside Emerald team-mate, Jessie Rigby.
The boys competed at the state carnival in Townsville last June, playing four matches against some very stiff opposition.
“I thought I went okay but I could have played better,” an honest Luke expressed.
“It was just a feeling in my gut that I wasn’t playing as good as I could have.
“But each time we come away with a bit more experience.”
Mum Debbie said the state carnivals were great exposure for Luke’s young football career.
“It’s fantastic for him to just be able to compete at this level and there is a really good team spirit among the boys,” she said.
“The wins were hard to come by but the margins were still close.
“We’re very proud of him.”
“I’ll just keep going with my training, get fit and work at it.”
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