Upon signing with Whittlesea Ranges, 18-year-old striker Matthew Conversano is ready to take his opportunity with both hands.
Arriving from NPL side Pascoe Vale, where he pushed for senior football last season, the youngster says the experience taught him the value of seizing opportunities.
“[Pascoe Vale] taught me a lot about the opportunities you get at senior level, you don’t get many, so when you do get a chance you do have to take it with both hands,” he said.
“I think trying to push myself into that senior squad last year, it gave me a good sense of how precious those opportunities can be, and just how important they are to take them as soon as you get them.”
The striker comes as Vinko Buljubasic’s first signing of the off-season, and says that although the season is two months away, he wants to be involved in the front third.
“It is a bit up in the air, I don’t want to sound definitive but I am a centre forward,” he said.
“At the moment, I’ve started two games, starting up front as a nine against Bulleen [this week], last week against Goulburn Valley I started out wide.”
“It’s early days… but when I signed with Vinko [Buljubasic] he knew I was a striker, he’d seen me last year so he knows what position I am, but where he wants to take that is up to him.”
Coming in as a teenager, Conversano has joined the likes of former A-League defender Naum Sekulovski, who he says has been a huge help to him and the team.
“Obviously playing at such a high level, he’s almost like a third coach … he helps out the young boys, he helps out pretty much everyone in the squad,” he said.
“It’s like having a coach on the pitch and that’s invaluable, someone that’s played at such a high level, to have that experience, that’s part of a winning formula I think.”
That winning formula is what Conversano thinks can drive Ranges to promotion next season.
“Vinko is looking to get promoted and I think the squad is capable, on paper I reckon we can do it if we do all the right things,” he said.
“You can’t say we deserve to be there yet, the season doesn’t start for another two months, but on paper I think we’re all set to be able to do that if we can take our opportunity.”
A drop from NPL to NPL2 usually comes with a drop in quality of football and facilities, but Conversano says he found little difference between the two tiers.
“I’ve found it certainly a good set up down there, the facilities are good, especially for an NPL2 club I didn’t find there was even that much of a gap,” he said.
“I didn’t what to expect, I’ve only ever been at Pascoe Vale, but I was pleasantly surprised that there wasn’t much of a drop in terms of quality of football.”
“Whether or not that’s all of the clubs I don’t know, but in terms of Whittlesea that’s all I can speak for and they’ve certainly got a good setup down there.”
Ranges can expect to bring in a few more players before the season starts after losing Tedros Yabio Atilla Ofli and George Slefendorfas.
“Vinko is still looking to bring a few players in, but all signs are looking pretty good for a good season,” Conversano said.