Staring down the barrel
FOOTBALL: Gunners coach Debbie Ovens admits Lachlan Hurt and William Ambrose's tour of Germany will leave her with plenty of headaches in the coming weeks.
With her first-choice goalkeeper and in-form centre back unavailable as they venture to Europe on a football tour, Ovens will be forced to look elsewhere for reinforcements.
She knows doing so will come with "great difficulty”.
"We've had to bring a couple of division-two players up but covering them will be very difficult,” Ovens said.
"We'll work with what we've got and try to create some more dreams for other players.”
The "dream” to which Ovens alludes is alive and well for Hurt and Ambrose, who leave on Thursday for their two-week tour of football heartland.
"If the opportunity arises and they play really well, they could get signed and become part of a professional club in Germany, which for a soccer player is the ultimate,” Ovens said.
"In Europe you're playing against the best. You develop quickly as a player and there's the potential for lucrative money deals also.
"It's a huge opportunity for these two young men.”
At just 16, Hurt still has years of development left in him. But even as a 12 year-old Ovens saw his potential, labelling the centre back "safe as houses”.
"I coached him in futsal and saw his talent back then, so I was happy when he decided to play for Gunners,” Ovens said.
"His confidence and skill level has improved out of sight in the last 18 months. As a defensive player he's extremely tough to get around and excellent in the air. I'm very proud of him.”
In Ambrose, who travels from Dalby each week to ply his trade in Kingaroy, Ovens saw a "self-taught goalkeeper” that needed some refinement.
"Will had a chat to me a few years ago and I said, 'If you come over (to Gunners) I'll help you out,' and he's gone from strength to strength,” Ovens said.
"We fixed his bad habits and turned them into positives and now he's a machine in that goal area - not much gets past him.
"He still has a lot to learn but hopefully over in Germany he'll get that next level of coaching.”
It's that next level of coaching that has Ovens particularly excited - not just for the players but for her own development as well.
"When they do come back these guys will bring all that knowledge with them,” Ovens said.
"It will help myself become a better coach as well.”
From a development standpoint, Ovens sees the trail set by Hurt and Ambrose as one that should inspire other South Burnett footballers to pursue their passions.
"It shows that if they're prepared to work hard they will get rewarded,” Ovens said.
"For these boys, I think this trip will blow their minds.
"They'll get over there and go, 'Wow, this is what it's really about.'”