Over the course of our A-League 2020/21 campaign, Brisbane Roar blooded no fewer than six BRFC Academy products as talented young locals continued to earn elite opportunities with Queensland's only professional club.
Warren Moon's strong belief in homegrown players and the Club's commitment to youth development led to A-League appearances for 13 players aged 23 and under, all while reaping on-field rewards as the Roar exceeded external expectations with a fourth-placed finish.
Beginning with goalkeeper Macklin Freke, we'll be spending the next few days on brisbaneroar.com.au recapping the recent achievements of the Academy graduates who broke through for professional debuts.
Outstanding start in the Hunter
Less than a month into the season, Freke was thrust into the starting XI when Jamie Young went down with injury.
His A-League debut was to come away to Newcastle Jets in Matchweek 4 as Moon's men chased a second successive away victory.
Freke handled the occasion immaculately, notching five saves and claiming two crosses.
The Brisbane local's performance helped his hometown team to a 2-1 win, with agile, low stops from Ramy Najjarine and Roy O'Donovan the best examples of his quick reactions.
Freke continued between the posts for the visit of Adelaide United on 30 January, with the Matchweek 6 fixture marking his home debut at Moreton Daily Stadium.
The young gloveman again produced an assured display as the Roar stormed to a convincing 3-1 win.
Perhaps the standout stat was his 74.2% passing accuracy, an immediate improvement on the 50% he tallied against Newcastle.
While there was little for Freke to do in terms of shot stopping, it was another 90 minutes of positive A-League exposure.
Momentum maintained in NPL
Though he returned to the bench for the A-League side once Young regained full fitness, Freke was able to maintain his winning touch once the NPL Queensland kicked off in March.
The 22-year-old helped Brisbane Roar Youth to a gritty 3-1 triumph over Eastern Suburbs in the opening round, a result that came despite the setback of Hassan Ramazani's first-half dismissal.
Freke returned to the NPL line-up at Perry Park in Round 4, holding the hosts goalless as Chris Grossmann's team added a clean sheet to their six-goal victory.
Young Roar were unable to avoid a narrow 2-1 defeat to Gold Coast Knights in Freke's most recent NPL appearance, but his presence in the early weeks of the season helped set the standard for a brilliant run of form that has taken the team to second on the ladder after 14 games.