Footballer becomes second ambassador

Light MP Tony Piccolo presents Sydney F.C defender Ben Warland with his Certificate of Recognition from Gawler Eagles.
Light MP Tony Piccolo presents Sydney F.C defender Ben Warland with his Certificate of Recognition from Gawler Eagles.

Another alumnus of the Gawler Eagles Soccer Club was honoured by his former club last Thursday night.

Defender Ben Warland became the second ambassador for the club, following in the footsteps of Riley McGree two weeks prior.

Light MP and former Gawler Mayor Tony Piccolo, who is also a Gawler Eagles board member, was on deck to present Warland with his Certificate of Recognition in a special presentation to the local lad.

A former student of Trinity College, Warland currently plys his trade for A-League outfit Sydney F.C after starting his career with home town club Adelaide United.

Warland spent time in his junior years at Gawler before moving to National Premier League powerhouse Campbelltown City and eventually relocating to Canberra to join the prestigious Australian Institute of Sport soccer academy.

A central defender, Warland made nine senior appearances for the Reds and 37 appearances for the clubs youth team over a four year stint before his move interstate to the three time champions in the January transfer window.

Speaking from Gawler’s training base at Karbeethan Reserve, Warland said he was honoured to become an ambassador for his junior club.

“As soon as Gawler Eagles got in contact with me regarding the ambassador role it was a non brainer for me coming back here to accept the role,” the 21-year-old said.

“Obviously giving back to my junior club, I played here from under 6s to under 8s, and I live just around the corner as well so it is good to give back to the community and give back to where I come from.”

Now living in Sydney, Warland said he was enjoying his time in a new city and a new playing environment.

He spent time deputising for former Socceroo Alex Wilkinson and Dutch footballer Jordy Buijs after his move, while learning under incoming National team coach Graham Arnold.

Next season he will play under club legend Steve Corica who will take over the helm after Arnold’s departure.

“I thank Adelaide for giving me my first opportunity to play in the A-League, but I think it was time for me to get up and leave to Sydney for a better opportunity and better exposure,” he said.

“I am happy I left and I think I have been given more opportunities at Sydney, and I feel like I am playing with more confidence.

“My first day at training was a bit daunting with more experienced heads in the squad like Ninkovic, Bobo, Brosque and those lads, but they were all so welcoming which I did not expect.

“The coaching staff were great through it all, they helped me where ever I needed help with finding an apartment which made it a lot easier.”

Warland is hoping to push on to the next level over the coming season in a bid to earn a contract extension with the Sky Blues or win a move overseas.

“I still have next season and with Jordy Buijs leaving I think that is a good opportunity for myself to cement my spot in the starting eleven,” he said.

“I still have preseason to train the house down and it is not a given but I will give everything to be starting every week.

“If I do well it is obviously the goal to go overseas somewhere but realistically I am just happy to be playing as a professional footballer.”

Warland made five appearances for Sydney after the transfer and was a member of their Premiership winning squad.