Cameron Crestani often dreamed of playing in the Hyundai A-League and becoming a Socceroo as he kicked a ball around with his four brothers in the backyard of the family’s Stanthorpe home.
And there was plenty more time to ponder those dreams as his Dad Frank drove him on a five-hour round trip up to five times a week for training and games in Brisbane.
Now the 19-year-old Young Roar captain has taken one more step closer to realising his football ambitions with his elevation to the Roar’s first-team squad for last week’s Westfield FFA Cup Round of 32 tie against Western Sydney Wanderers.
Although the talented central defender didn’t see any game time and could head back to the Young Roar for the final few games of the PlayStation 4 National Premier League Queensland competition, Crestani has a clear focus for the months ahead.
“My aim is to break into the first team. I hope I get to train with them as much as I can and with the quality of players around me develop as a footballer then see where it goes from there,” Crestani said.
The teenager also has paid tribute to his Dad Frank and Mum Sonja for helping chase his football ambitions - first in Stanthorpe then with South West Queensland FC and the Queensland Academy of Sport and now with the Roar.
“They have been massive for me and supported my dreams all the way,” he said.
Crestani’s inclusion in the Roar’s first-team training squad continues a growing number of the club’s Youth products who are stepping up to the next level in their football development.
Already promoted are previous Young Roar captain Mitch Hore and fellow Young Roar players Nick D’Agostino, Abrahim Yango and Luke Pavlou.
At the other end of the scale, under 18s including Dane Ingham, Daniel Leck, Liam O’Bryan, Adam Sawyer and Tommy Miller have now stepped up from that team to fill the vacancies in the Young Roar PS4NPLQLD squad.
“It is good to see the youth system is producing the goods and players are getting promoted as a reward for their hard work and potential,” Crestani said.
The Young Roar travel to Kawana tomorrow (Sunday, 16 August) to take on Sunshine Coast FC (noon Under-18s / 2pm Senior Men's) and Crestani expects another strong performance from the youngsters against the Fire after last week’s impressive 2-0 win over Northern Fury FC.
“The boys from the 18s are fitting into the team really well,” Crestani said.
“It all about the coaching staff and players around them helping them do what they do. They have come up for a reason and we are now helping them progress that little bit further.”
The changes to the playing roster have at times impacted the momentum of John Sime’s team and Crestani says the players all understand it is about the quality of football they play week in week out. “We have had some good results against top-of-the-table teams so we are pretty happy with how we are progressing,” he said.
“We have to use these games now to continue our preparations for the (Foxtel) NYL season.”
In the meantime, Crestani has his fingers crossed to be included in the firs- team squad for one of the four games in the Roar’s Pre-Season Tour of South-east Queensland.
The first of those matches is against Besart Berisha’s Melbourne Victory at Southport on Wednesday (7pm kick off).
Tickets to the match start from $5 and $10 and can be purchased by clicking here.
All pre-sale tickets will go into the running to win an autographed Brisbane Roar-Steadfast jersey.
Tickets will go on sale soon for the Roar’s other matches next month against Newcastle Jets (Cleveland), PS4NPLQLD Under-23 All-Stars (QSAC, Nathan) and Central Coast Mariners (Sunshine Coast).