BALLARAT Red Devil Riley Harrison has become the club’s second overseas-bound player this season, after being recruited by a US team.
The 18-year-old is less than four weeks away from making a life-changing trip to West Virginia’s Bethany College in America under full scholarship conditions.
For Harrison, the journey from Ballarat District Soccer Association club Ballarat North United to National Collegiate Athletic Association pick-up has been one of dedication and patience.
It began with a raw 15-year-old signing on with leading college scouting agency National Scouting Report in 2011.
Three years, several trial stages and a bunch of interviews later, he has landed himself a four-year ride in Bethany’s physical education and sports science degree.
Harrison’s selection overseas comes on the back of senior midfielder Dane Milovanovic being picked up by Maldivian club New Radiant in June.
While he has played just the one game this year after being thrown in the deep end alongside senior keepers Aaron Romein and Jordan Franken, Harrison says the last six months have helped him make considerable advancements into his development.
“This year I thought I needed to step up and raise my game a bit and train with the 20s,” he said.
“I’ve definitely improved through the coaching and training with goalkeepers like Aaron Romein and Jordan Franken.”
Red Devils player manager James Robinson said Harrison’s endeavour had shown strongly this season.
“He’s been quite fantastic and his attitude has been great. He’s a good young goalkeeper,” Robinson said.
“He’s been very limited for opportunities, but when he’s been called upon he’s always put his first foot forward.”
While Harrison’s development has taken off at the Red Devils, he still credits former North United coach Tony Sommers for being his biggest influence.