LUCAS Mauragis determined at age 13 that he wanted to be a professional footballer - nothing was going to stand in his way.
A year later, the ambitious midfielder moved from Merimbula on the South Coast to Canberra to further his game.
He lived in a small apartment with his sister, who was in year 12, for a year before coping on his own for three years. He'd ride a bicycle to training in between going to school and domestic duties.
Last week, Mauragis signed an 18-month scholarship with the Jets.
On Friday night, the now 18-year-old made his A-League debut off the bench in the scoreless draw with Central Coast in Gosford.
"I knew I was going to be travelling with the squad but I didn't know I was on the bench until just before the game," the left-sided specialist said.
Mauragis' dad, Darnus, made the nine-hour journey from the South Coast on spec and was in the stands for the special moment.
"I wasn't sure if I was going to play but he didn't want to miss me make my professional debut," Mauragis said. "He tries to make every game. It had always been a goal to get a run before the end of the season. I'm super keen to continue to develop and learn from the coaches and the older boys."
Jets youth team coach Daniel McBreen offered Mauragis a trial in November after he had watched a highlights video of the winger on Youtube.
Mauragis, who has started a psychology degree at Newcastle University, was one of the Jets' stand outs in the National Youth League season.
"Before the COVID shut down I was in and out of training," he said. "When they resumed after the break, I got a call from the club to train full-time because there was a bubble.
"I went back home to Merimbula for that period and trained quite hard on my own. Everything was in the air but I always try to find a positive. I thought it could be an opportunity for me to make the first team."
Mauragis played in the front third in the youth team, but was deployed as a left wingback for the final 14 minutes against the Mariners. He provided thrust up the left touchline and delivered a couple of searching crosses into the box.
"I'm usually a left winger but I played left wingback when I was at Canberra Croatia," Mauragis said "I'm pretty familiar with it and can play anywhere on the left side."
Mauragis was still 17 when he joined Canberra Croatia and has no doubts the experience he gained playing and training with men helped him step up to working with the Jets' A-League squad.
"I was already familiar with the adult style of football - the physicality and tempo," he said. "A lot of people thought I would struggle to get game time at Canberra Croatia. I ended up starting every game and had quite a few assists."
Maraugis, who is living in student accommodation in Newcastle, is eternally grateful to his parents for allowing him to pursue his dream at an early age.
"Before moving, I used to travel three hours each-way to Canberra twice a week," he said. "The far south coast competition was pretty small and wasn't very competitive. I had to show my parents I wanted a future in the sport. They gave me the opportunity to have a crack."
Mauragis did his final four years of school in Canberra, a Lyneham High and Dixon College.
"I grew up pretty fast," he said. "There were a lot of things I had to do on my own. It was a very small apartment. It was in an area close to a lot of the training facilities and school. I was able to ride my bike around and get where I needed to be. Sometimes I'd grab a lift to away games."
Meanwhile, Melbourne City will call the Hunter Valley home away from home for the remainder of their A-League campaign.
City are staying at the Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley and are training at Maitland Sports Ground.
They will commute to Sydney for games, starting with the clash against the Sky Blues at ANZ Stadium on Saturday.
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