Young Launceston City goalkeeper Tyson Rusden is eyeing a future in the A-League after landing a dream move to Central Coast Mariners' academy.
The 12-year-old and his family will relocate to NSW early next year after his performances caught the eye of the Gosford club's coaches.
It is the latest of several giant steps for the talented shot stopper who is a regular in Northern Tasmanian Junior Soccer Association representative teams, will compete in his third futsal nationals in January and has already represented his country internationally.
Dad Jamie said the latest progression had all happened quickly.
"We were doing some goalkeeping sessions with Alex Cisak in Hobart and he noticed Tyson had a bit of talent, said he was one of the best keepers for his age and was happy to line something up," he said.
"The next thing we knew he had a trial with Mariners' academy lined up.
"When the borders opened, we organised a trip, he had the trial on a Sunday, was invited back on the Monday and offered a position with the academy on Tuesday."
Two highly-experienced coaches masterminded the move and have high hopes for the year six student at Scotch Oakburn College.
Cisak is a former Socceroo who progressed from South Hobart to play for several English clubs including Leicester, Burnley, Portsmouth and Oldham Athletic and now runs Limitless Football Academy back in his home state.
He told the website ftbl.com.au: "I was blown away by how good a keeper he was. Within 10 minutes I had a gut feeling. He has technique, ability and is fast and agile."
Nick Montgomery was equally impressed.
The Englishman, who played nearly 400 games in a 12-year career with Sheffield United before moving to Australia in 2012 and adding another 116 plus an A-League title with the Mariners, is technical director of the club's academy and keen to introduce a streamlined professional pathway.
"In Tasmania, there are some decent talents who don't get the opportunity," Montgomery said.
"We'll sign Tyson. He's desperate to be a footballer and his mum and dad understand that.
"And for that to happen he has to move away from Tasmania.
"It's a big commitment from his parents."
The club that gave English Premier League and Socceroo star Maty Ryan his debut hopes Tyson can follow a similar path.
He's pretty excited about the opportunity to work with coaches at such a high levelTyson Rusden's dad Jamie
"If he plays in the A-League or Young Socceroos or moves to Europe, it'll be the best decision the family will have made," Montgomery added.
"Kids can now come to the Central Coast, play football all day with good coaching, and also be part of the Mariners' talent ID.
"For us to make a pathway like this is exciting for the players and the game across Australia.
"Just look at Europe, South America, Africa - kids would walk to another country for the chance to be in a professional environment."
Launceston-born Tyson, who initially played for Riverside Olympic and moved to Launceston City last year, is excited about the move having seen other major opportunities curtailed by COVID-19 this year.
Having already represented Australia in an under-11 team that went to Italy for the international Montesilvano Cup tournament in 2019, Tyson was selected in the under-12 team that was meant to play a tournament in Malaysia this year.
He was also invited to go to Germany with a team from Victoria in March, but saw both trips called off due to the global pandemic.
However, the reopening of Australian borders allowed the latest opportunity to bear fruit and the family is heading to NSW on January 8.
The 2021 futsal nationals are being played in western Sydney on January 9-12 after which the family will stay on.
Jamie said Tyson is thrilled about joining the academy which plays against other A-League clubs and recently won the NSW NPL2 competition.
He will also attend the Central Coast Sports College which is a combination of training and normal school.
Christmas is coming but SHAW THINGS is available for the special festive price of $29.95*.— Rob Shaw (@TheShawThing) November 25, 2020
DM me or email email@example.com for the best Christmas present ever**.
Happy to post ($42.20) or deliver locally.
* Same as normal price
** Claim not legally binding pic.twitter.com/bjmUyXMr2t
"He's a little bit nervous but he's pretty excited about the opportunity to work with coaches at such a high level.
"The head of the football department at the school is the current Australian under-17 coach, Michael Cooper. For a goalkeeper, this sort of opportunity is hard to come by, especially from Tasmania."
Professional facilities for sport and education mean students combine their schooling with training.
"That's what happens in Europe," added Montgomery who crossed paths with Cisak when both were playing professionally in the UK and has since developed a scouting system designed to unearth future A-League talent.
The pathway appears to be working well with several academy players pushing their way into the A-League squad.
"We're pushing the club to an elite level and no doubt we'll see the product of this in years to come."
Launceston City was delighted with Tyson's progression, wishing him well in a Facebook post .
"A thoroughly deserved opportunity," it said.
"Tyson has never stopped training and improving this year, seeking extra training sessions at every opportunity outside of under-12 team trainings with coach Alex Turner. We wish you the best of luck ... and we are sure you'll impress the Mariners throughout your time there."