“I’m trying to keep the emotions low right now, but I’m honestly just excited and I can’t wait to hopefully take the pitch on Saturday and do the best for Central Coast.”
Through the realms of the illustrious Central Coast academy that has brought through some of the best football talent Australia has seen, we might yet be witnessing the birth of another memorable player from Gosford.
On the eve of a blockbuster FFA Cup final match on Saturday evening, young Central Coast defender Dan Hall gives an insight into the start of his career at the mariners.
After progressing to the first team in the 2020/21 season, Dan Hall has taken on all the chances that has come him thus far. Indeed, the 22-year-old centre back has been commended by pundits and coaches after recent performances which has put him in the limelight – in what could potentially be a breakout year for the future Fijian international.
Ahead of arguably his biggest match in his young career, Dan Hall caught up with Kick360 to discuss the ins and outs of getting to such a stage in his career.
“It’s pretty surreal right now, obviously playing professionally is a dream that a lot of people have – so it’s definitely something I am not taking for granted; It’s been lots and lots of hours on the training pitch, but I wouldn’t want to change a thing because I’m loving every minute so far”
After putting together some decent shifts in at centre back this season so far – including a standout performance against Sydney in the FFA Cup semi-final. Hall has made great strides since being promoted to Central Coast’s senior team. Subsequently, the up and comer was rewarded with a contract extension midway through last year.
The sink or swim complex to sign a professional contract at a young age is a battle that many young footballers must endure, whether it be trialling at different clubs all across the country or having to leave your hometown and family, the 22-year-old was no exception to facing such battles.
“At the time I think I was 18 or 19 and living at home in Brisbane and suddenly I had a trial with Central Coast. Obviously, it was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down. From doing continuous trials to eventually getting told I can join the youth team, I basically just packed up all my things and moved down in a heartbeat. It was a long way from home, but it’s paid off since I’ve gotten here and I’m loving it.”
“All my best mates and all my family are back home in Brisbane, so I guess at the time it was a difficult decision. But the chance to play football regularly for me was something that I couldn’t turn down. Luckily, with social media now, you can stay connected with all your mates back home. Although we don’t see each other in person, I’m still keeping in contact with them regularly and my family as well.”
However, in what would have initially been a daunting prospect having to travel to a new city, Hall reflected on how he has found a new family at the heart of the Central Coast.
“With the likes of Marco Ureña, Oliver Bozanic, Kye Rowles and Ruon Tongyik they have that experience that I guess that I don’t have at the moment, but training with them each day I’ve learnt so much from them and they’re always out to help me progress in my football so it’s really good”
“They’re top blokes as well off the pitch, it really just helps the comradery when all the senior players are down to Earth blokes, they’re always helping out the younger players and creating a positive environment”.
Moreover, when one thinks about the various talents that have arisen from various A-Leagues clubs, there is few who could doubt the successfulness of the Mariners in developing young players into World Class players. From the likes of Matt Ryan, Trent Sainsbury to Tom Rogic and many more, it is almost as though there is a secret formula being brewed at Gosford. As a beneficiary of an outstanding academy, Hall outlines his reasoning in regard to why the club has been so successful in this department over time.
“I think it starts with the coaching staff which are willing to give the youth a chance. To be honest when you look across the league it was only until COVID when coaches were pushed into giving young players a go, whereas here, its imbedded into the clubs culture. You can see it with players like Jacob Farrell as first choice left back – in his very first season as a professional footballer. It just really shows that the club believes in the youth and now they’re reaping in the rewards.”
As Hall elaborates on the importance of Central Coast’s youth focus, he is benefiting from such an environment that has ultimately paved the way into a potential call up to the Fiji national squad. Whilst Hall has not officially been capped for the national team yet, he has undertaken U20 training camps and recently been called up to a Fiji national team camp.
“It would be a great privilege to represent the Fijian national team and to be proud of my heritage. Of course, any footballer would aspire to play international football and be proud of where they came from”
Hall was additionally question as to whether he would consider playing for Australia if given the opportunity.
“I guess playing for any country is a great honor, so having the opportunity if I was to play for Fiji or eventually maybe even Australia would be amazing – it’s up in the air at this time but we’ll have to wait and see what the future holds.”
Changing attention to the upcoming FFA Cup Final match against Melbourne Victory on Saturday. In what will be the mariners first chance at silverware in almost a decade, Hall speaks lengths in how valuable it would be to Central Coast and its supporters.
“Anyone around the club who’s been around for a while, will know the importance of our first chance of getting silverware in a while now. The team’s not trying to get too ahead of ourselves; we know going in that where we’re the underdogs and we’re okay with that.”
“We’re a small club with a big heart.”
“When we go there, we’re not backing down, obviously we’ll have to wait and see what happens, but I think we’re in for the real shot.”
“And the chance to play in the Asian Champions League, not many teams in Australia have been able to do so recently, so for a team like the Mariners to do so it’s obviously huge.”
Furthermore, in what embodies the nature of FFA Cup, the Mariners have utilised their youth products to get themselves into their first FFA Cup final. Through a well rotated squad, and an everlasting youth centralised philosophy, the mariners were destined to eventually reach the last stage of the cup. However, Hall discusses how Nick Montgomery and the coaching staff are trying to take it one step at a time and not let the occasion get to the players heads.
“They’re trying not to hype up the game too much, after all it’s just another game of football.”
“Although I guess it is quite a big game when you think when you sit back and realize that what what’s actually going on. But when you have a younger team you don’t want to let the occasion get to them. We’re just preparing for it like any other game.”
Dan Hall and Central Coast take on Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park in the FFA Cup Final on the 5th February at 8:00 pm AEDT.