Van Elia has flirted with a move to the NSW National Premier Leagues competition in previous years.
After leading Corrimal to the 2019 Illawarra Premier League championship, the striker attracted interest from Blacktown City, Marconi and Mt Druitt 12 months ago.
For a raft of reasons, including niggling hamstring injuries and his status as a New Zealand visa player, those opportunities fell through.
But this latest chance, he was determined not to let slip.
After spending the past month training with the Wollongong Wolves, Elia has officially signed with the team for next season.
Not only does he plan to step up to the NPL, the 27-year-old hopes to eventually make the leap to the A-League.
"It's a very big opportunity," Elia said. "This is the next step up. To be under Luke Wilkshire, he's the best person to be under. I can't take this opportunity for granted.
"I don't want to stay around, I always want to go higher. He is the right coach to be under to push me to the next level.
"He'll always be there for me and he'll push me. He's always willing to take every player to the next step if they're willing to go."
Elia has impressed Wolves coach Luke Wilkshire throughout the early weeks of pre-season, the attacker sliding seamlessly into the squad.
His signing comes as the Wolves farewell Takeru Okada, the midfielder moving to Melbourne to play in the Victorian NPL competition.
While Okada is a significant loss for Wollongong, Wilkshire is confident Elia can step up on the pitch.
"Van will bring creativity to the side," Wilkshire said. "He's an attacking player with creativity and goals in his game. With Takeru leaving, he'll come in to fill that void.
"He wants to pursue further opportunities and I'll push him all the way to see him do that, to fulfil his potential.
"I have no doubt he's got the ability to play at this level and beyond, the rest is up to him."
Elia is one of three players the Wolves have signed this week, with goalkeeper Aidan Munford and right wing Bilal Belkadi also inking new deals for the 2021 season.
The pair were members of the Central Coast Mariners Youth team, with Munford spending the past season at Gold Coast United, where he won the Queensland NPL goalkeeper of the year award.
Wilkshire has compared Belkadi to himself as an emerging talent, the coach confident both players will thrive in Wollongong.
"Bilal is a young right back with a lot of energy. He's aggressive, fit, he doesn't take a backward step. He has all the attributes to be a right back, he'll be a good addition.
"Aidan is another player who has been in an A-League set up and has ambitions of playing professionally again.
"He comes to us off the back of winning goalkeeper of the year up in Queensland, he wanted to progress his career and Wollongong is a good stepping stone to being a professional."