Aspiring A-League player keeps faith Pride will rise
FOOTBALL: Western Pride goalkeeper Griffin Bambach harbours hopes of one day playing in the A-League or even venturing overseas.
It's an ambition the Pride newcomer has pursued since he first jumped in front of goals growing up in Byron Bay.
However, in his first year testing himself in the National Premier Leagues Queensland competition, he knows his main short-term focus has to be helping his Ipswich side turn opportunity into success.
In Pride's much improved 3-1 loss to Lions on Monday night, Bambach was again a standout making a number of point-blank saves and finger tip deflections against one of the best teams in the state league.
"I haven't been playing badly I guess,'' Bambach said.
"I'm here to do a job and that's what I'm doing and hoping that soon it starts contributing to the results as well.''
Having come from a stint playing on the Gold Coast, the Ipswich recruit was confident Pride's recent run of NPL competition losses was about to change.
"We're showing signs that we're getting to where we need to be,'' Bambach said.
"It's been a rough time when I came in with everything happening, coaches changing.
"We've been training well but we've got to convert that in games as well.''
Bambach debuted for Pride against South West Thunder in the round six match in Toowoomba. Since that 4-2 win in March, he's played in seven NPL games.
On Monday night, Pride threatened a massive upset when Feli Sheriff pounced on a cross to put Pride 1-0 up in the second minute of their latest game at the Briggs Road Sporting Complex.
However, a Lions' penalty and controversial goal seconds before halftime shattered Pride's early momentum and hopes of a victory.
Although Pride's defence held tighter and more promising attack was created, it was lack of finishing polish that again proved costly.
"At the end of the day, 3-1 is not an awful result but we definitely know we could have got another couple of goals and probably prevented a couple as well,'' Bambach said.
"It is disappointing but I'm proud of the boys' efforts. They didn't stop running for the full 90 minutes.''
A positive for the Ipswich team was inaugural Pride talent Jarrod Hyslop playing his first full game in the senior side. The talented teenage footballer has progressed up the ranks having started in Pride juniors in 2013.
Bambach, now 19, switched from a young striker to a goalkeeper after attending a national camp while living in the Northern Rivers region. The former JPL player and state futsal representative had a short stint on the Gold Coast before his timely Pride offer.
"I was stoked when Terry (Pride head coach Terry Kirkham) gave me a call,'' Bambach said.
"I wasn't playing at the Gold Coast anymore so you need game time as a keeper, especially a young keeper.
"I came here and I'm happy with the squad even though results haven't gone our way recently.
"I think we can step it up in the coming weeks. A couple of good results and we should be right.''
The 193cm tall goalkeeper sees the NPL as a major platform from which to achieve his future goals.
"It's a much better level in Queensland than it is in northern NSW so this step up has been good,'' Bambach said.
"I feel like I'm coming good slowly into the NPL.''
That's why he enjoyed the challenge of facing powerhouse NPL teams like Lions and Peninsula Power.
"I have to prove myself first in the NPL before I do anything else,'' Bambach said.
"The dream is to get up into A-League or over to England or anywhere in Europe and play for a good club over there. Hopefully a professional club.
"This is a good little stepping stone to get to where I want to be.''
Bambach rated Monday night's well-drilled Lions attack the best he's faced this season, alongside NPL heavyweights Peninsula.
"I was just happy we played respectable football after the recent weeks,'' he said.
In the earlier Easter Monday NPL clash, the Pride women lost 5-2 to Logan.
The young Pride team toiled hard with Brianna Pogany scoring two fine goals. Pride had four regular players out, including the entire centre back formation.
The Pride boys and girls' under-18 teams lost their earlier games on a big afternoon of football at Ipswich's NPL headquarters.
State of play
NPL: Lions 3 (Mitchell Hore, Jheison Macuace, Marek Madle) def Western Pride 1 (Feli Sheriff).
NPL women: Logan 5 def Western Pride 2 (Brianna Pogany).
NPL U18 boys: Lions 3 def Western Pride 1(Joao Magalhaes).
NPL U18 girls: Logan 7 def Western Pride 3 (Jessica Curran 2, Shayla Mcgill).