Australian forward Oliver Kelaart hopes the gamble of dropping down a division in search of game time will lead to an A-League Men move.
The 24-year-old left first division Keflavik for newly promoted second tier outfit Thróttur Vogar in March, after just one season in the top tier.
Kelaart only saw 464 minutes of football last season, playing in 12 matches in scoring once, so he’s hoping he can hit form and impress with his new club.
“I came back to Keflavik in January for pre-season training,” Kelaart tells Kick360, “but a couple of months later I decided to leave, purely based on wanting more game time.
“I could’ve stayed and maybe came off the bench, but I just decided what was best for me. If you’re not playing, you’re not getting noticed, so my objective was to go and play and I ended up signing for Thróttur Vogar.”
“It’s the first time the club has reached this division, so we’re looking to maintain that status. Our objective is to survive but anything above that is a bonus.
“It comes down to these small details. We’re a young team, inexperienced at this level, so as we go along, we’re learning from our mistakes. I’m confident we can step up as a group and stay in the division.”
He hopes the extra game time will give him the “strongest possible CV” as he looks to return to Australia ahead of the 2022/23 season.
“I want to be scoring goals, getting game time, and getting back in that groove. Obviously as well, playing games will get the attention of other clubs. At some point in time, I do want to go back home to the A-League Men.
“The idea is to play another season here and then hopefully something pops up. Our season finishes in September and then the A-League Men season starts soon after, so my plan is to go back and sign for a club when my season finishes.”
Kelaart had previously looked for a loan move to the A-League last year, hoping to keep playing during the long Icelandic off-season. However, this never eventuated so he ended up training by himself in north Spain.
“It was three months off, so I had a month and a half off for my own break then I was training again after that, obviously by myself, before coming back to Iceland on January 4. My mum lives in the north of Spain so I was out there doing morning sessions in the gym then spending afternoons at the park with a ball, very old-school.
“That’s the bad thing about living abroad, it’s harder to contact other clubs unlike in Australia where I already have certain contacts who can help me out.”
Although a newly promoted team, Kelaart’s new club have strong ambitions and their recruitment has reflected this, including two fully capped internationals.
“Pablo Gallego is Spanish, but his parents are from Nicaragua, so he’s out with them and we also have Michael Kedman who’s playing for Trinidad & Tobago. The two countries actually played each other the other day!
“It just shows that even though I stepped down a division, it’s still a high level of football for me to get the opportunities and showcase myself.”
That number could soon rise to three however, after Kelaart was approached by the Sri Lankan national team after they learned his father was born in Colombo. The country has just recently begun a rebuilding project and enlisted the help of Tim Cahill and the Aspire Academy in Qatar, in an effort to create a professional setup and ensure access to elite coaches.
“It would be a proud moment for myself and my family, and an honour to represent the country my father was born in and spent nine years of his childhood before moving to Australia.
“Sri Lanka has been through some tough times so I would love to give back to the people and the fans through football and help inspire the next generation come through. I know going forward their ambition is to be part of the top 10 teams in Asia, so it’s a nice goal to chase.”