The hard work is only just beginning for Wooragee’s Alec Mills.
A talented Border soccer prospect, Mills is among 12 rising sport stars from the region to be nominated for the Norske Skog Young Achiever of the Year Award.
Mills, 17, lines up at centre back for Murray United’s under 20s in the NPL 2 competition against the best young talent in Victoria.
A stellar 2017 season saw him head to Singapore for the Singa Cup and Dream Cup, but the next two years are his most important yet.
“This year I definitely want to get minutes in the first team for Murray,” Mills said.
“Then I hope to be picked up by an A-League youth team.
“I’ve got a few mates at Melbourne City at the moment who I went through the system with that I played with at the national titles in under 13s and 14s.”
Mills started his junior career at Albury Hotspurs on the Border and played under 13s for Goulburn Valley Suns, but has been with Murray every since.
He’s now coached at the club by his father, Darrel, who is impressed by his son’s modesty.
“He hasn’t got an ego at all, he works hard and makes sure his own house is in order on the field and tries to help everybody else,” Darrel said.
“I think that will hold him in good stead going forward.
“At Murray, even though he’s in my team, (senior coaches) Elliot (Jones) and David Afonso have more to do with him than I do.
“But he gets far more coaching off the park than any other kid cops, I’m pretty hard on him.”
Darrel stressed the biggest thing for Alec is to take the good things away from every coach you have.
“He’s had some good coaches along the way which has been fantastic and I’ve always taught him to listen to every coach you have, whether you like them or not,” Darrel said.
“You’ve got to be a rounded player that can be very resilient to everything.
“Things aren’t always going to work, but we’re pretty proud of the way he conducts himself.”
As a key defender, Mills must be switched on for the 90 minutes every game.
“His decisions have to be better than anyone else and he can’t make mistakes with distribution,” Darrel said.
“He’s calm on the ball and technically he’s really good, but in the centre back position he just needs to be a little more robust, but that will come.
“He’s doing a lot outside the nights at Murray, he’s going to the gym, he’s doing a lot of work with the ball.
“It’s five nights a week, plus a game on the weekend, but it’s the extra stuff that what will get him there.”
This year’s Young Achiever will be declared on March 16 at the Commericial Club.