Cleaver is impressive
THEY say first impressions last.
And for Simon Cleaver the resonance couldn’t ring truer.
The 16-year-old Woodlawn High student has just been offered a place at the Sydney Soccer Football Academy by former Socceroo Gerry Gomez after catching the eye of a scout at an inconspicuous practice match last year.
Playing in goals for Lismore Workers against a Queensland Academy of Sport team, Cleaver made a host of saves, alerting all those with an eye for talent.
A scout mentioned Cleaver’s name to Gomez and when the renowned skill-shaper visited Goonellabah last month for a series of soccer clinics, word of the local kid’s prowess had come full circle.
And he wasn’t going to waste the opportunity to impress.
Cleaver took guard in goals for a series of demonstrations and franked the wraps that had been placed on him with another series of saves.
Following the sessions, Gomez invited Cleaver to test the waters with a one-week stint in Sydney where he would spend three days at the International Goalkeepers Academy and train the rest with the Sydney FC youth league team.
And didn’t he feel it.
“It was really tough, tiring training,” Cleaver said.
“Certainly a couple of notches up from what I am used to.”
The adolescent shot-stopper rated the week invaluable to his development, relishing the chance to operate in an environment of excellence.
Gomez was so impressed with the raw skill of the teen that he offered Cleaver a full-time spot at his academy.
“It’s an offer that is very hard to knock back,” Cleaver said. “It is like streamlining your development.”
But as Cleaver is months short of having his P-plates and had just started his High School Certificate, he chose to put the offer on the back-burner until it becomes more practical.
With Gomez searching for a Sydney school to enrol Cleaver in and the P-plates due to arrive later in the year, all signs point to relocation for 2011.
Until then Cleaver will ‘train his guts out’ in an effort to stay up to speed, insisting motivation will not be a problem with the A-League carrot dangling at the end of the stick.
Hopefully, the impression he left is long-lasting.