While last year may have served as a footballing renaissance for Shepparton’s Alou Kuol, this year has signalled the start of new dawn rose-tinted with potentially life changing properties.
With the 19-year-old putting pen to paper on a senior scholarship deal with A-League side Central Coast Mariners, until the end of 2020-21 season — meaning the Goulburn Valley product is now a professional footballer.
While it may have been easy to let euphoria encapsulate such a moment, Kuol acknowledged his own efforts in reaching the top of the nation’s football pyramid.
“I am really delighted to see all my hard work pay off, I have put in a lot of hard work to be here,” Kuol said.
“I would like to thank Staj (coach Alen Stajcic) for having faith in me and I look forward to developing and learning under him.
“I was really shocked at first (upon hearing of the contract), but I was very pleased to have my hard work not go unnoticed.
“I want to pay back the staff in the future and work my way into the senior team in the next year.”
Kuol graced the greens of GMHBA Stadium on Sunday for his A-League debut, in front a drove of close friends and relatives — many who had travelled from the Goulburn Valley to witness him don the yellow and navy for the first time.
“I am very proud of my achievements, especially coming from Shepparton,” Kuol said.
“All my friends and family from Shepparton were there to support me and, overall, I was very happy to make my Mariners debut.”
The jump from Shepparton to Gosford has been a smooth transition for Kuol, who has thoroughly treasured his time taking on a full-time footballing role.
“I wouldn’t change a thing; the Mariners have been very welcoming and I can’t wait to learn off the more experienced players at the club,” he said.
“Now I am getting ready for the National Premier League, where hopefully we can win the league.”
Recently, the wunderkind travelled to Portugal to participate in a training camp with one of the world’s finest footballing aristocracies, Sporting Lisbon.
Mixing in with the club’s under-19 outfit, Kuol noted the experience as a chance to observe the diversity in tactical methods.
“Portugal was really great to see the difference between Europe and Australia; it was great exposure over there,” he said.
Now back in Australia making massive strides on the pathway to greatness, Kuol has credited his success as a product of his own grind — a message he wishes to pass on to those wishing to blaze a similar trail.
“Anything is possible if you work hard enough,” he said,
“I always told myself if I kept working hard then I would get there.”