Olyroos and Central Coast Mariners midfielder Daniel Bouman has surprised the doubters in his first full season of professional football.
The Netherlands-born Bouman previously spent five years with Eredivisie outfit FC Groningen in their youth set up, playing nearly 100 games for the club’s youth sides before spending a season with Dutch side SC Cambuur in their U-23s team last year.
Despite playing predominantly at youth levels, Bouman believes his time in Europe was invaluable in helping him develop as a footballer.
“It took my game to a whole new level being in a professional environment. Training everyday was really good for my development,” Bouman said.
“I learnt a lot things about the game such as the speed of play and taking your first touch which really improved me and helped me go on to have a professional career.”
Following SC Cambuur’s 2019-20 campaign being ended prematurely by the COVID-19 outbreak, Bouman headed back to Australia where he spent time as a child and was handed a career lifeline by the Mariners.
Despite playing predominantly at youth levels, his performances with the Olyroos and at club U-23 level was enough to have teams sniffing around for his signature.
“There had been interest (from clubs) towards the end of my season at Cambuur,” Bouman said.
“Being part of the Olyroos got my name out there a lot more to Australian coaches and the Australian (footballing) community.
“With the COVID situation that had happened it led to me getting in touch with the Mariners. I was in Australia at the time, and got to join along (with the Mariners) and train with the club.”
Despite a lack of senior level football experience Bouman has shown he’s adapted well to the A-League level, and believes he’s been able to take his game to the next level.
“This is my first full-on year of pro football and there’s been a lot of game time,” Bouman said.
“The A-League is a very physical league, there’s a lot of running and the game is a high tempo. It’s lifted my game and made me improve in different aspects of the game.
“As a young player you need game time at the highest level against the best players.
“In the A-League I’ve really been able to lift my game being in a first-team set environment where the game is quicker than the academies in the Netherlands.”
Bouman’s Mariners had fallen on tough times in previous seasons, but their rise this campaign has been one of the feel-good stories of the season.
Boasting a dynamic squad of seasoned veterans and exciting young talent, Bouman says the closeness and winning mentality of the squad has attributed to the club’s success this season.
“Everyone can see that we fight for each other and we have a strong team bond,” Bouman said.
“We have a real belief in the process and the way that we play. We haven’t gotten results in every game, but we’ve been really competitive.
“All the older players have been massive such as Matt Simon, Oliver Bozanic and Mark Birighitti.
“Those players with all the experience they have, they’ve taken the younger boys under their wing and really grind us, also the younger lads have a lot of energy and a lot of drive to be the best we can be.”
With the success of the team and getting to play where he grew up, Bouman says he has enjoyed his first campaign with the Mariners.
“I used to live in Australia and now coming back and being with my family and seeing them more often has been great,” Bouman said.
“I’m living up the coast now, the weather is always sunny and community is awesome.
“Also, the A-league has also really pushed on and it has been a great season.
“The football has been exciting and the fans are coming back, it’s all been really good.
“The team has been doing really we’ve brought football back to the coast, the fans are coming back now so I’m loving it.”
Image Supplied: Brett Hemmings/Central Coast Mariners