Teenager passes first exam, now for the next test
WHEN young players get thrown into men's football, especially in country leagues, they are tested in ways they aren't in their age group.
The pressure and intensity gets too much and dreams of playing alongside their older club mates are shattered in a hard hit or with a skill error.
Some struggle while some shine, and Brothers Aston Villa's Blake O'Brien, 17, is in the latter category.
O'Brien was a major contributor to Villa's success in 2015 and he was rewarded with a grand final win in the Three Cities League.
Players like O'Brien are not easily satisfied and are always looking for more out of their football, and today the teenager will chase that something extra when he flies out for trials in Perugia, Italy, over two weeks.
O'Brien says he is looking forward to the higher level and can't wait to hit the pitch in the home of football.
"I'm really looking forward to the experience - it's going to be high quality and high intensity," O'Brien says.
"I think I will be able to handle the intensity, it's (the biggest challenge) going to be the skill level."
O'Brien has been playing Division 1 for three years and has developed into a strong player, he was one of the first picked in the team for the Three Cities grand final and his two goals more than justified his selection.
Tim Lunnon, Villa's 2015 Div 1 coach, was full of praise for O'Brien and said there were attributes the he had that separated him from others in the competition.
"Off the field for a young person he had a pretty good knowledge of the game," Lunnon said.
"I could talk to him about thing and he would understand it.
"On the field when he had the ball at his feet he was fast; he not only scored goals but he created opportunities."
Paul Bongioletti, a foundation player of the club, was part of the team that sponsored O'Brien to get to Italy and he said the young player has all attributes needed to make an impressing.
Bongioletti rated O'Brien in the same talent as club great Paul Cannif and would love to see him achieve his dreams.