From Mariners ball boy to first-team rising star
Central Coast Mariners youngster Lachlan Wales has gone from club ball boy to rising star of the first team, and he’s loving repaying the faith of head coach Paul Okon.
The lightning-fast 20-year-old came off the bench in the 71st minute against Melbourne Victory in Geelong last weekend to help secure a 1-1 draw.
Wales made an instant impact with his pace and swagger.
Latching on to a through ball from Wout Brama, Wales found himself in the box before his deft outside of the foot pass set up fellow substitute Blake Powell for a tap in.
“I’ve always been going to the Mariners games and used to be a ball boy at the Mariners so it has been a big dream of mine,” Wales said on Thursday.
Paul Okon has been instrumental to Wales success over the last two games
“He is a great coach and knows a lot about the game, puts a lot of confidence in me, and I'm grateful for the opportunity he has given me," he said.
When asked about his assist, the academy product that he was just doing his job. “I am just trying to repay the faith that Paul puts in me.
“It’s my job to come on and make a difference.
“It is more excitement than nerves. I love putting on the jersey and just try do my best for the team.
“Paul and the players believe in me so I was able to go out there and do my best.”
Watching the Mariners play weekly, Wales hero-worshipped stars from the past.
“Michael McGlinchey on the left wing scored a lot of goals. I also look up to Storm Roux. He is a young player but has a lot of experience and he gives me a lot of advice.”
However, Wales says the most influential person in the team for him is a certain Spaniard who bosses the backline.
“Alan Baro helps me a lot, talks to me all the time. He is someone who gives me a lot of confidence.”
Wales added that he will continue to work hard and hope for another chance.
“Just to try and get as many minutes as I can. Whether I'm playing or not playing [on the bench], just try and keep myself in the frame for selection and put my best foot forward.
“I’ve spent my whole life here, so if I got the opportunity I’d go out there and give it my best shot,” he added.
If selected, Wales has a chance to perform in front of the home fans when the Mariners host Melbourne City at Central Coast Stadium at 5pm this Sunday.