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Ben Warland: Moving to Sydney saved my career

Growing up in Gawler just north of Adelaide, Ben Warland made his A-League debut for Adelaide United in 2015, before moving interstate at the beginning of last year to join Sydney FC. Jack Hudson went One on One with the defender to find out where he’s at with his football now.

Jack Hudson: What was it like growing up in Gawler – an Aussie Rules oriented town?

Ben Warland: My old man played for Gawler Central (Football Club), so I think he wanted me to play AFL from the start.

But I was a bit too young to get into a team at the start, so he took me to soccer at the Gawler Eagles.

I started at under 6s, and I’ve stuck with it since then.

I kind of regret not playing a bit of Aussie Rules, would’ve been a bit of fun, but glad I stayed with soccer.

JH: Do you remember your first game of soccer?

BW: I actually don’t remember it to be honest.

All I do remember was a good mate of mine that I went to school with, his dad was the coach and he lived across the road.

I remember playing at the Eagles on the small pitch, the back pitch, on the sideline, trying to coach kids.

I have good memories back there.

JH: You went from the Eagles onto Adelaide City and Campbelltown – how did you enjoy your junior days?

BW: One of dad’s work mates was a coach at Adelaide City, so I gave my dad the push to bring me into the city competition.

I had a trial out there and got in the first team, I think it was under 13s or 12s, I had a good time there, made good friends there, my family fit in well.

I went to Campbelltown from there, and I had a great coach there, he has a soccer academy in Adelaide, so check that out if you have a kid.

He played a big part in my career, teaching me the basics of the game.

I think I played most of my career at Campbelltown before I moved to the AIS.

JH: What was the AIS like?

BW: The first year I was there it was great, I went a year early.

I was a young lad going into an old environment for my age.

Moving away from home, leaving friends and family behind to chase my dream of becoming a professional was a bit tough at the start, and tough for my family at the start.

I was only 14 when I left home, it was a massive commitment from everyone.

I learned a lot there and had a lot of great players around me who have gone onto forge pretty decent careers as well.

The AIS, I’m disappointed that pathway isn’t around anymore, it was great for any young Aussie boy to go through and get that professional treatment and learn what’s expected at the A-League clubs and beyond.

JH: In your junior days you represented Australia at under 20 level. What was that like?

BW: That was probably one of the highlights of my career, representing the young Socceroos.

We did go away a fair bit with the core group of the squad, consistently going away to qualify for the under 20 world Cup.

I travelled to Asia multiple times, to the US once for a massive tournament, which was an unbelievable experience.

I thoroughly enjoyed it and played alongside some great players and some great coaches along the way.

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Jack grew up in Gawler, South Australia – just 45 minutes north of Adelaide – and has a passion for all things football and soccer. Jack has worked in the media for more than four years, and hosts his own sports show on Barossa radio station BBBfm. He previously played football for Elizabeth, South Gawler, Gawler Central and at junior level with Central District, and is a die-hard Port Adelaide fan.