CHENNAI: At first glance, Aryn Williams signing for I-League newbies NEROCA FC is one of those routine transfers that usually fly under the radar. A team, based in a city as far removed from the Indian mainland as it can get, snapping up a 23-year-old who has spent almost all of his senior career playing in Australia. But one person who will be keeping a close watch on how Aryn’s stint with NEROCA goes is national coach Stephen Constantine, for the Aussie defender might be embarking upon a journey that Arata Izumi took a few years ago.
Aryn comes from a footballing family that has already contributed much to Australian football — his elder brother and former Middlesbrough midfielder Rhys has played for the Socceroos while his twin Ryan has lined up for the U-23 team. But Aryn has a different goal in mind — he wants to play for the Indian football team. And he is eligible through his mother who was born in Mumbai.
“I have relatives in Mumbai which is where my mother and grandparents were born,” Aryn told Express. “Playing for India is definitely something that I am looking to do in the future. Rhys is currently playing for Australia and my twin brother Ryan has also been playing for the Young Socceroos in recent times. If I get given the opportunity then of course, I’d love to play for the Indian national team.”
Aryn started his career in England with Burnley but returned to Australia as a 19-year-old. He soon got his A-League chance with Perth Glory where he was joined by Rhys. The NEROCA offer came just as he had left Perth and Aryn did not have to think twice. He also had a sentimental reason for doing so — he would be following in the footsteps of his grandfather, who played for WIFA in the 1950s. “I said yes straight away (to the NEROCA offer) and got everything sorted as soon as possible,” said Aryn. “It’s a great opportunity for me to play in India. Also I wanted to follow in my grandfather Lincoln Grostate’s footsteps as he played for WIFA in the 1950’s.”
“I left Burnley at the age of 19 and at that time coming back to Australia and playing in the A-League was the best thing for my career,” he added. “Coming to India is a new chapter in my career and I am excited to see what the future holds for myself within Indian football.”
Aryn is well aware of the current structure of Indian football and NEROCA’s place in it, but nevertheless hopes that he gets to challenge for some silverware this season.
“My hopes for this season are to play well for Neroca and hopefully challenge for some silverware either in the I-League or the Super Cup,” he said. “Neroca is a great club and I am looking forward to a successful season ahead. I’d like to remain within Indian football for years to come as I think I have a lot to offer and hopefully one day I can pull the Indian national team jersey over my head with pride.”