Faced with the possibility of never playing soccer again, Lachlan Clark’s dream of being a professional goalkeeper was looking bleak.
The 19-year-old from Prospect collided with another player at the Northern championships in 2015.
“I didn’t even know I injured myself at the time,” he said. “It was afterwards, I was a bit sore.”
Initially, it looked like a hamstring injury, but about a month after the collision on the field, he had some scans and it turned out to be in his back.
“His spine started to go crooked,” Clark’s mother, Susan, said.
“I took him to the doctor and he sent him straight for scans. From there, they sent him to Dr Gary Fettke and he had to have it fused and then have physio.
“If he didn’t have the operation, then after time, that nerve would have collapsed because of the disc pushing on it.”
Before the surgery, Clark couldn’t use his left leg properly.
“If I tried to kick a ball, I just had a rush of pain through my whole left leg,” he said. “The surgery was urgent because if the nerve collapsed, I wouldn’t be able to use my left foot again.”
After the surgery, Clark was told it would be at least 12 months until he could play soccer again. However, full of determination, he worked with a physiotherapist at the Launceston General Hospital, and they managed to halve the recovery time.
“It was a lot of gym work to do with my legs - to strengthen my legs back to where I wanted, to be able to play soccer,” Clark said.
“It wasn’t really anything to do with my back, it was more to get my body back to strength so I could support myself. It was really good and we worked together pretty closely. It only took about five months to recover.
“It was just because we managed to halve my recovery time that I was able to play again last season. I felt stronger than ever because of all my physio.”
Clark, who is goalkeeper for Launceston City, made Football Federation Tasmania team of the week four times last season.
“The goal is to play professionally. At the moment, I’m playing the state league here and hoping to get selected from that, and if not, I’ll go to some training camps on the mainland and see how I go over there. I train four times a week with the team and then on the other nights I play basketball.”
Launceston City coach Andrew Heap said Clark was always first at training.
“We think he has an outstanding future,” he said.
“We believe, today, he’s a good keeper. We think he could be a great keeper.”
Clark is also starting university this year at UTAS, studying physical education.