Saturday, 19 January 2013

Tom Rogic - path to Celtic Park?

Canberra's Tom Rogic has signed a four and a half year deal with Scottish Champions Celtic.

And while many have seen Tom in one of his 28 professional games to date few will know that the former ANU and Belconnen United Premier League player struggled to find a pathway from his talented potential in Canberra local teams to full-time professional.

 Canberra football in the past has struggled to help our late developers. If they didn't get into the 20 man AIS national program, at 17, they were finished. All of them.

In Canberra, faced with being dumped from the local ACTAS program - Rogic didn't make the AIS national program - he simply had nowhere to go. The local Premier League, training twice a week is simply no stepping stone to professional football in it's current form.

Fortunately the visionary John Mitchell took Tom and a number of other talented ex-ACTAS players, introduced a fitness regime planned by fmr Fulham Head Conditioning Coach and Canberran Andrew Young, football intensive training guided by Fmr AIS Head Coach and Canberran Ron Smith and the team was passionately lead by John.

It took one individual to bring in this talented group of professionals to assist our local youth. (Interestingly the program was never supported by the local Football Association. Too visionary at the time it seems, the program is now dead.)

Tom of course was a tremendous prospect. Slow they said. Too gangly they said. But anyone who watched him play knew he had something special.

Futsal - he represented Australia at a very young age. Next time your coach winces at the word - check out you Coaches skills. His technical skills. Are they any good! Probably not.

Of course it's hard to go from ANU men's to the A-League.

But the Nike World Challenge helped!

Tom won it!

Competing to be one of four from Australia and NZ, Rogic made that cut.

But amazingly when competing for the Nike World title in the UK against players from Brazil, Europe etc Tom won again.

He came back to Australia due to visa requirements and was picked up by fmr Socceroo and Reading player Andrew Bernal. The Canberra born Bernal worked hard with Rogic to lift his fitness levels prior to and after the Nike challenge.

The story goes.

Bernal rang Rogic late on Christmas Eve. "Training tomorrow Tom, 6am Mount Ainslie."

Rogic was the first to turn up.

Bernal simply wanted to test the guys dedication! Bernal knew what it would take to get anywhere near a contract.

To the Mariners under the watchful eye of Graham Arnold, Rogic instantly replaced media darling and upcoming star Mustafa Amini. No easy feat..unless you were better!

He'll be marked in Scotland, unlike in the A-League where he often roamed free from Sydney and Melbourne's poor excuse for a defence.

But if he can crack a significant number of games this season and create something special, the roar from the stands in Glasgow will be like nothing he heard in Gosford.

Big club, big expectations.

A lot to learn but what an adventure.

Good luck in Paradise Tom Bhoy - every Canberra football fan wishes you well.

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