Ryan Kalms is a young soccer player going places - fast.
After representing Victoria at primary school level last year, the 13-year-old recently represented Victoria Country at the National Youth Championships in Coffs Harbour and has been recruited by Melbourne City to join its junior National Premier League squad.
Training four times a week in Melbourne means a lot of time in the car, but Kalms wouldn't have it any other way.
His passion is soccer and his dream is to make it his profession.
"I've developed massively this year,'' Kalms said.
"I'm looking forward to developing even more with Melbourne City.
"I'd love to make it to a professional league in the future."
Kalms' performances for Victoria last year caught the eye of Melbourne City scouts and he took his game to another level in 2019.
He played up an age group with Bendigo City FC in the NPL and was named captain of the under-14 side.
Kalms helped Bendigo to a respectable 12th-place finish in the 16-team competition.
"Playing in Bendigo against Melbourne teams in the NPL is great competition,'' he said.
"I moved from centre-back up into the midfield to a more attacking role. I like the versatility of being able to go forward and back.
"Playing up in age group wasn't going to be easy, but it made me mentally stronger and physically stronger which was always going to help me with my move to Melbourne City."
That form continued at last month's National Youth Championships where Kalms scored seven goals in eight games to lead Victoria Country to a rare finals appearance in the 13-year-old boys division.
Vic Country played Vic Metro in the grand final, with Metro winning 2-0.
"I learned a lot that week from the coach and I was happy with the way I played,'' Kalms said.
"It was a pretty successful week...it would have been nice to beat Vic Metro in the final."
Kalms' junior career is following a similar path to Bendigo's Mitch Graham.
Graham, played his junior soccer with Golden City and Bendigo City before being picked up by Melbourne City.
Graham was called up to Melbourne City's senior team for a game earlier this year and Kalms was pitch side as a ball boy.
"Training with Mitch and seeing his skills, he's set the bar for where I want to get,'' Kalms said.
"I look up to him and he's someone I aspire to be like.
"It was a bit surreal to see a country kid get a start for Melbourne City."
Kalms has his sights set on being another "country kid" that makes it at the elite level of the sport.
"Soccer is non-stop for me at the moment and I don't think I'll ever stop,'' Kalms said.
"When I was about eight I picked soccer over footy because I knew the sport best and that's helped get me here.
"I'm very happy with the choice I made."
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