Thomas Leech was named Junior Sportstar of the Year, ahead of a top field of athletes.By Geordie Cowan
Experience playing against the ‘big boys’ in the Victorian Premier League — the highest level of soccer in the state — was the 2012 highlight for Junior Sportstar of the Year Thomas Leech.
The 17-year-old played five games in the Heidelberg United senior team at left-back or centre-back after an impressive season in the under 21 team.
‘‘Playing the seniors was really good,’’ Thomas said.
‘‘That was probably the best experience, playing with the big boys and learning some new things up there.
‘‘They have bigger bodies and they’re not (just) going in for the ball, they’re going in for the body and the ball.
‘‘You’ve got to learn to use your body a bit more.’’
The Moama resident said he thought he had ‘no chance’ of winning the award on Monday night, but said it gave him further confidence in his future endeavours.
‘‘There were a lot of other people that were, if not as good as, then better than me,’’ Thomas said.
‘‘Winning makes me think, this isn’t the highest you can go.
‘‘There’s more awards, there’s more things you can do and there’s other things that I can achieve.’’
As well his experience in the senior competition, Thomas was also named the player of the year and was the top goal-scorer for Heidelberg United — despite playing at centre-back.
The year 12 St Joseph’s College student also captained the Melbourne Football Stars on its annual overseas trip, where the team played in Scotland, England, Germany and Spain.
Further, he was accepted into the National Scouting Report Soccer Australia program, which will lead to him attending a US college in 2014.
‘‘I find out at the end of the year and then I move on,’’ he said.
The teenager will play for Hume City’s under 21 side this year and hopes to add more senior appearances to his name.
Thomas thanked his family for their support throughout the year.
‘‘I’d like to thank mum and dad for their support — they do everything for me,’’ he said.
‘‘Also to my sisters and their partners, they all help out.
‘‘My friends and mates, they sacrifice their time to come and watch.
‘‘I want to thank all those guys.’’
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