Teens on the ball for grand final
BEING talented young footballers, Ipswich teammates Harrison Diehm and Mac Ballard love learning from A-League champions Brisbane Roar.
Harrison admires Albanian import Besart Berisha and Mac rates German recruit Thomas Broich his favourite player.
While both teenagers hone their skills in Ipswich's Centre of Excellence program, the duo are gaining elite experience other youngsters can only dream of.
Harrison and Mac are ball boys for Sunday's A-League grand final between the Roar and Perth Glory at Suncorp Stadium.
Harrison, 14, performed the same duties at last year's grand final won by the Roar 4-2 in a dramatic penalty shootout against the Central Coast Mariners.
Harrison has simple advice for Mac, who will be helping out at his first grand final.
"Try not to become deaf," Harrison said, reflecting on being in front of more than 50,000 fans last year.
"It was crazy.
"When they (Roar) were down 2-0, it was like dead quiet. Then when Henrique scored, it got a bit louder.
"When Paartalu headed it in (to equalise 2-2), it was like so loud. It could deafen you."
Both players are thrilled about having the best seats in a packed world-class stadium.
"I'm expecting a really good atmosphere and a lot of pressure," Mac, 14, said.
Harrison, from Flinders View, performed ball boy duties in all Roar home games this year and the Asian Champion League matches in Brisbane.
Karrabin-based Mac has enjoyed his first season being a ball boy at Roar A-League home games.
"My favourite moment was the first time I did it (against Adelaide). Just the atmosphere was incredible," the West Moreton Anglican College student said.
Centre striker Harrison and left midfielder Mac are in the Knights under-14 side representing Ipswich in this year Football Brisbane competition. The new season kicked off recently.
Harrison, a St Edmund's College student, said seeing players like Berisha close up helped his football development.
"I've got to learn how he plays," Harrison said.
"We play the same system (at the Centre of Excellence) so I like watching him play and seeing what he does so I can try and do what he does."