It's every young boy’s dream to play professional football alongside their best mate.
That is the reality for Central Coast Mariners’ young guns Liam Rose and Anthony Kalik, who made their Hyundai A-League debuts off the bench in the 2-1 come-from-behind victory over Adelaide United last weekend.
The pair, who are graduates of the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) in Canberra, have been on the fringe of selection since linking up with the squad for the 2014/15 season. Both players were incredibly grateful for their inclusion in Phil Moss’ 18-man squad that ultimately resulted in Hyundai A-League minutes.
“It was a huge moment. Definitely one I’ll never forget,” Rose said.
“It’s very exciting. It’s a great moment for me and Liam and it’s great we got to do it together,” Kalik said.
The 17-year old midfielders share a house in Terrigal, and were signed together after just two training sessions with the Mariners during a trial in late 2013. This continued a long run of shared achievements for the duo, who also spent time at the New South Wales Institute of Sport.
“I’ve known Liam since I was 11 or 12 years old. We’ve played in the same team together for four years. Now making our debut together is just a great feeling,” Kalik said.
The transition into first team football can be tough for young players, but Rose and Kalik credit the mentorship of the Mariners leadership group that has guided them on their footballing journey.
“The older boys are fantastic,” Kalik said.
“When I went out there I was nervous, but when you have leaders on the field such as John Hutchinson, Matt Simon, Liam Reddy, players like that - it’s a massive help,” Rose said.
Gaining confidence from their Hyundai A-League debuts, both Kalik and Rose will push on for more game time in the highly competitive Mariners squad.
“It’s great when the coach shows faith in you to put you on. I’ll just keep working hard in training and hopefully my chance will come again and I’ll take it,” Kalik said.
“It reassures me about my game and it just gives me confidence that I can play against the older boys,” Rose said.
Head Coach Phil Moss places full confidence in the two debutants and noted that it was their form in the Foxtel National Youth League that warranted a call up.
"I have tremendous belief in both Liam & Anthony. They earned their debuts through hard work & consistent performances on the training pitch and in our NYL team.
"Liam controls games from midfield and Anthony has scored 10 goals so far this season so they had to earn their chance and I think both boys did well last week. They gave the team energy just when we needed it and weren't overawed by the occasion,” Moss said.
Above all, the match against Adelaide provided a crucial three-points in the race for a finals spot, where the Mariners closed the gap on their nearest rivals and next opponents in Brisbane Roar to a single win, while four points is all that separates the Gosford club from the top six.
“We needed it,” Kalik said.
“The boys played well to come back from one-nil down,” Rose added.
Now the attention of the boys in yellow and navy turns to Friday, when they host reigning Hyundai A-League champions Brisbane Roar at Central Coast Stadium.
“We’re pushing forward and we’re looking good at training. Hopefully we can keep the momentum going and get the three points on Friday against Brisbane,” Rose said.
- Friday 13 February 2015
- Central Coast Stadium, Gosford
- Kick-off: 7.30pm
- Gates open: 6.30pm
- Tickets: Please CLICK HERE to purchase tickets to the match
- Twitter: Join the match conversation on Twitter! The official match hash-tag is #CCMvBRI
- Watch: Live on FOX SPORTS 4
- Listen: Live on ABC Grandstand & Coast FM