UNSW Commerce student Calem Nieuwenhof has been hard at work over the past few seasons, honing his skills in the National Premier League competition while training with Sydney FC and hoping to make his debut in the famous sky blue.
His opportunity finally arrived on Thursday night, after he was selected in the starting line up for the AFC Champions League game against Shaghai SIPG FC at Khalifa Stadium in Qatar.
Although the result was a 2-1 loss for Sydney FC, it was great experience for the young midfielder and he will look to grow through the competition with the view to making his A-League debut later this year.
Nieuwenhof has enjoyed being part of pre-season training with the squad, which has helped him develop as a player.
"It’s really good, just being in and around all the older boys is very helpful," he said.
"They’re always giving pointers and that has really helped my own game as well. Just being around the quality they have is great to train with."
As a lifelong fan of the club, this debut has been a dream come true for Nieuwenhof.
"I’ve supported the club since I was a very young boy and been to a few games growing up, joining in the Cove as well, so to make my debut (is) pretty surreal," he said.
While 2020 has been a challenge for everyone, Nieuwenhof is pleased that he has managed to achieve a few important goals and will look to tick one more off the list before the year comes to a close.
"My first goal was to get a scholarship contract which I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity of," he said.
"My next goal is to make my debut for the club in the A-League, play as many minutes as I can and make as much of an impact as possible."
Sydney FC's next game is on Wednesday 25 November at 9pm AEDT against Korean club Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors FC.