Ipswich footballer living his dream in elite Asian series
PREPARING for his latest AFC Cup campaign, Ipswich-bred footballer Joshua Grommen is living his dream.
And having already played in this year's Asian Champions League series for Philippines club Ceres-Negros FC, Grommen remains humble but proud.
"It's always great for any athlete to be able to come from the area you started playing and being able to represent your home town on an international level in sport,'' he said.
Grommen, 23, grew up in the Bellbird Park and Springfield Lakes area while rising through the ranks at clubs like Western Pride.
The former Queensland Academy of Sport captain recently took another major step in his football career after being lured overseas.
"After the season I had in the Thai Premier League/Malaysian Super League I had a few options on where I should sign next,'' Grommen said.
"The Thai Premier league was always going to be my first choice due to the fact that it's the biggest league in South East Asia and also known as a very high level in Asia. But when Ceres-Negros FC approached me about a contract and the fact that they could be playing in Asian Champions League was too big of an opportunity to turn down so I decided to sign with my former club of the Philippines which now is the highest ranked team in south east Asia after our stint in the Asian Champions League qualifying rounds.''
Grommen is part of the Ceres-Negros side that has played three qualifying matches in the latest Asian Champions League.
In the first game, Ceres-Negros won 3-2 against Shan United FC, a club from Myanmar.
Being a knockout game, Ceres-Negros progressed onto the next match against a Thai powerhouse club Port FC.
Ceres-Negros beat the Thai Premier League team 1-0.
In the most recent game in their Asian Champions League campaign, Ceres-Negros lost 2-0 to FC Tokyo, who finished second in last year's J-League.
When sharing his thoughts, Grommen was preparing for his team's AFC Cup match against Svay Rieng FC, a club from Cambodia.
Grommen has been playing central defender, fulfilling an important wide position at the back when required.
"So far everything with playing is going well and feel I'm competing and doing what I'm told to do,'' the former Ipswich sportsman said.
"I'm the youngest player in our starting 11 so I listen and learn from the more experienced players around me which helps a lot especially when it comes to big games such as FC Tokyo.''
Grommen said the highlight so far was playing against FC Tokyo as they are a huge club in the world of football.
"What made it even better is my family flew over to Japan just to watch my game which was a special moment for all of us,'' Josh said.
However, what he has achieved and what awaits has kept Josh grounded.
"Having played Asian Champions League and AFC Cup and having that on my football resume is a big step forward for me,'' he said.
"Clubs look at this and think 'ok this player has played in a good level and competed with big players in Asia' so this helps with my progress into big and better leagues.
"I believe so as playing in such a competition like the Asian Champions League is massive for someone like myself, coming from youth levels in Australia seeing A-League clubs playing in the same completion really makes me proud of what I have achieved so far and what I can achieve if I keep working hard.''
The AFC Cup campaign for Ceres-Negros involves playing each team in their group twice in home and away matches.
A qualifying game follows to get into the club championship, which is another competition for South East Asian clubs.
"I've signed a year contract with Ceres-Negros FC so I am here full-time until the season is done,'' he said, having previously played for Sukothai FC in the Thai Premier League.
"Then I will see where my football takes me.''