Three Illawarra footballers have earned a golden opportunity to break into the A-League with the Melbourne Heart.
Brian Jamba, 16, Hayden Durose, 19, and Sam Matthews, 20, were among 80 hopefuls to take part in Tuesday's unprecedented tryout at Wollongong University under the guidance of Heart coach John Aloisi and assistant coach Hayden Foxe.
Aloisi, Foxe and Heart boss Scott Munn also attended a luncheon in Wollongong and Munn later said the club would consider bringing an A-League fixture or pre-season friendly to the region.
Real-estate firm ParkTrent sponsors the Heart's youth team and was behind the club's visit to the area.
Jamba and Durose play with the South Coast Wolves, while Matthews is aligned with Dandaloo.
Jamba lives in Narooma and only took up the game when he was 12.
School studies kept him from taking part in yesterday's Mercury photo shoot with Durose and Matthews, but the Zimbabwe-born teenager is ecstatic with his selection.
"I'm really, really happy," Jamba said.
"To get the chance and be involved with a professional team, I've always wanted to do something like this.
"I had a good trial, and to be selected with the older guys motivates more even more. It means I'm on par with them.
"In class today I've been saying to myself, 'What do I need to do, what do I have to work on to make it and start my career?' That's my aim. Ever since I started playing soccer, all I ever wanted to do was become a professional.
"I'll do everything I can to make the most of this opportunity."
ParkTrent chief executive Ron Cross will sponsor the trio's Melbourne trip and praised the Heart.
"We wish the guys all the best for their football careers in the future.
"A big thanks to Melbourne Heart for taking time to come to Wollongong to trial our local talent and giving them this opportunity," Cross said.
"We'd like this to be an annual event and hopefully one day soon Wollongong will have our own A-League team."