WHEN Keegan Hughes was playing under 11s football with Wingham the team had a problem.
They didn't have a goal keeper. Just to make matters a little more difficult, no-one was particularly interested in filling the role.
Then came some parental intervention that was to have a profound impact on Hughes' future.
"My dad put me back there because we didn't have anyone else,'' Hughes, now 17, said.
It was a smart move. Within two years he was a member of the Football Mid North Coast junior teams playing in the National Premier League as a keeper.
It was here he was spotted by Newcastle scouts and he was soon regularly on the road to Newcastle for training and skills sessions.
Hughes has since moved to Newcastle to be part of the Newcastle Jets' system.
He's completing his schooling at Hunter Sports High.
Last month he had his first taste of what the A-League is like when he was included in the extended squad for an FFA Cup clash against Melbourne Victory in Melbourne.
The Jets came from behind to level the scores at 2-2 at fulltime, before getting the decision in an extra time thriller.
Hughes didn't get onto the field and he didn't expect he would get any game time.
"But just being around the A-League players and watching what they do was good experience,'' he said.
Hughes is currently playing in the Newcastle Youth under 18s, with the season due to end this month. His side is currently in third place.
However, Hughes' year won't be over when fulltime is called on his side's last game for the season. He'll keep training within the Newcastle system.
"We virtually train 12 months a year,'' he explained.
"We have a bit of a break for Christmas and then start again.''
He started playing football with Tinonee, before the switch to Wingham and then Taree Wildcats. This led to selection in the FMNC junior representative sides.
Hughes played 13s and 14s with FMNC in the NPL before the move to Newcastle.
There's always plenty of pressure on the keeper but Hughes said that comes with the position.
"If a goalie makes a mistake, it usually results in a goal,'' he pointed out.
"But if a player in the field makes a mistake, it doesn't necessarily mean a goal will be scored. So there's pressure, but I just have to learn to deal with it.''
Hughes's short team ambition is to gain a scholarship with the Jets when he finishes year 12 in 2020. Longer term he hopes to be a regular starter at A-League level.
"I can't put a time on that though,'' he said.
"I'll just take it a season at a time and hope I get the opportunity.''