ALMOST three months ago to the day, 17-year-old rising soccer star Rhyan Grant announced his acceptance into the Australian Institute of Sport’s soccer program and said that his dream was to get a start in the A-League when the time came.
Fast forward to this week, and that dream is within touching distance after the former Churches United and Bathurst ’75 player was signed to glamour club Sydney FC.
Sydney FC media manager Terry Aylett confirmed that the club had acquired the services of the centre-midfielder, who was originally from Canowindra before he furthered his career with the two Bathurst clubs.
In June it was revealed that Grant had received an invitation to take up a scholarship at the AIS in Canberra where he was selected despite not fitting into the age criteria for the 2008 scholarship program.
Now having impressed in his short stint in the nation’s capital, he has taken perhaps the biggest step yet in his fledgling career.
“Rhyan has signed a Youth League contract, which is basically a semi-professional contract ... The Youth League is the equivalent of the NRL’s under 20 competition,” Aylett explained.
“It means that Rhyan and his teammates will be playing some curtain raisers for the A-League club in front of some pretty big crowds.
“He will be training a few nights a week, and will get the chance occasionally to train with the top side and the likes of John Aloisi and Tony Popovic.”
Aylett added that this particular perk of the job meant that Grant also would come under the eye of head coach John Kosmina and possibly – at a stretch – even see him called up to the top grade.
“The Youth League side are designed to be a feeder team for the top team. If there are injuries to the senior players, the first port of call is the Youth League team,” Aylett said.
Grant will be mentored by Sydney FC Youth League coach Steve O’Connor, who may have had some prior knowledge of Grant’s talent having been a part of the AIS program throughout 2008.
The youngster said that O’Connor’s role in securing the two-year deal was a significant one.
“When Steve got the job coaching Sydney FC’s youth side he came back and asked me to come and play.
“When he asked I just couldn’t believe it and said yes straight away. It is a pretty good feeling.”
Grant has played several trial matches and so far seems to be fitting in perfectly.
“I don’t think I looked out of place, and I think for the time being it is all about proving that I’m good enough to be in that sort of company,” he said.
“I would love this to lead to something in the A-League but, having said that, Sydney FC have an awesome midfield so I’m not expecting too much just yet.”
For the time being, Grant will continue to live and study at the AIS in Canberra while commuting to Sydney for training sessions on the weekends ahead of the games themselves.