Blacktown City’s young-gun goalkeeper Alex Robinson stepped into big shoes this season after Tristan Prendergast took some time off for surgery, giving the 17-year-old the opportunity most young players dream of.
Despite having big expectations on his shoulders, Robinson has done nothing short of impressing between the sticks, sliding into the National Premier Leagues Men’s side as a starter with ease.
Having played football for as long as he can remember, Robinson worked his way into the goalkeeper position after moving around the park as a youngster.
“I’ve been playing football since I could stand on my feet, kicking these little soft balls around the garden,” Robinson explained.
“As I grew up, as soon as I could get on the pitch, I started playing.
“I started off on the field, so went from midfielder and then to centre back and then in Under 12s I believe I would drop back into goalkeeper and from then on I’ve just loved the position.”
Having risen through the ranks of Blacktown City since joining the club in Under 15s, the opportunity is a dream come true for the year 11 student, who is balancing schoolwork with training as he chases his football dreams.
“It’s been amazing,” Robinson said of his football journey so far.
“The journey has had some major good points and then there’s been those setbacks that you’ve just got to push through – It’s all mental, you’ve just got to work through those hard moments.
“When I got my opportunity in first grade, I’ve just taken it and I’ve really been enjoying it.
“I’ve just been training my hardest and taken my opportunities.
“I do some training sessions at school with Brody Crane, which is excellent so I’m getting extra training sessions there which just pushes me to that next level for first grade at Blacktown.”
The step up to first grade has given Robinson a taste of men’s football and, with the support of Blacktown City behind him, has allowed him to work on different elements of his game that have changed in the first grade environment.
“When I got thrown into that first grade environment, I just had to believe in myself,” he said.
“I had to play with confidence and, with time I just started to gel with the team and now when I hop on the first grade field, it feels like I’m just living my best life.
“When I used to play in the Under 18s games and Under 20s, the ball speed was a little bit slower.
“When I took that step up into first grade, everything just just went so much quicker and I just had to get used to that as quick as possible and take the opportunity with first grade, take that position with Tristan out for the moment.
“So I’ve really been enjoying that first grade environment with that quicker ball speed, I’ve been learning every day from Critto.
“Tristan as well has been giving me some really good pointers in goals for first grade.”
With Prendergast as a role model, Robinson has been taking in what he can from the experienced keeper, as well as some world-class players.
“I follow Liverpool, so obviously Alison in goals is a big inspiration.
“I’ve watched a few video clips of the past Blacktown games and I’ve seen Tristan Prendergast, in goals and I’ve seen some of the saves he’s made and it’s really just helped me click with first grade and find things I can do differently and it’s just really been helping me out.”
The team has enjoyed plenty of success so far in the season and Robinson is relishing the environment he is in and the challenge that the competitive season brings.
“The vibe at the moment is amazing,” he explained.
“We all obviously had that setback with boys coming back from COVID-19 but we’ve just pushed through.
“After that after that week against APIA we just pushed through and moved on to the next week.
“We’re trying our best to get those three points and get up the table.”
Having been given opportunities at such a young age, Robinson has plenty of time to pursue his goals in football, but the youngster is focusing on the short term and putting in the work to open up more opportunities.
“My future goals at the moment are short term,” he explained.
“I’d just like to try my best to keep my spot in the first grade squad, even just those training sessions really push me.
“In the future I just want to see where football takes me, just try my hardest as often as I can and just see how far I can go.”
While it can be difficult to stay dedicated and disciplined at a young age, Robinson doesn’t see the challenge, pouring everything he has into his football development and showing his maturity in chasing his goals.
“Since I was young, I’ve always just been training no matter what.
“Sometimes you go to parties every now and then, but it’s just those sacrifices you’ve got to make if you really want to make it.
“You’ve got to have dedication and really focus on your goals and that’s what I’ve been doing, so I’ve just been training and not really going out as much. I’m more focused on football.”