Sitting across from me Niki Loe looks a man that is mature beyond his years. Cool, calm and collected would sum up the talented 21-year old Goalkeeper from the Sutherland Sharks.
He talks with maturity about growing up in a Croatian family and the support he has gotten throughout his whole life. “Growing up in the Loe household was great! I always had a lot of family around with younger siblings and relatives plus mum was a stay at home mum until recently which really helped my upbringing”.
He goes on to tell me what an interest his family has taken in his sporting endeavors and the constant support they have been to him. When it comes to sport, you need the support of your family and close friends to help you through, Loe is no exception.
Loe’s interest in soccer came at a young age and he was constantly performing at representative events in a bid to get a start in football. It would be his local club the Sutherland Sharks who would give him that first opportunity to play the game that he loves. It certainly helped that he lives over the road from the Sutherland Sharks training ground!
“It’s obviously a great club with a very stable setup and great people throughout. Doesn’t hurt that it’s across the road from home!” Says Loe.
The pride with how he talks about his local club is there for all to see. Niki is someone that is very passionate about family and it is safe to say that there is a family environment at the Sharks where they have a youthful squad. There were setbacks last year but there is a feeling of progression in 2017.
He speaks about his happiness in learning from one of the best goalkeepers in the NSW Premier League in Nathan Denham who is also the club captain.
They have a mutual respect for each other and despite there being close to a 10 year gap between the two, there is no discrimination. Furthermore, When Denham was dropped from the First Grade side last year and Loe took his place, it was the former who helped him prepare and the first one to congratulate him after he made some vital stops in the subsequent win over Parramatta.
Unfortunately for Niki Loe and many others, the NSW Premier League is a competition that cant support you financially. He works full time and trains and plays part time, but for Loe this isn’t too much of an issue.
He works in the Waste Industry and has done so for the past few years. It is something that he is very passionate about and something that he enjoys. He laughs when I mention to him that waste and football don’t really compliment each other.
” It is challenging, to an extent but very doable. There’s obviously times the I would rather dedicate myself to one or the other but it’s working for me at this stage and I haven’t stunted my growth here nor there”.
Loe spent the large majority of last season playing in the Under 20’s for Sutherland as well as being on the substitutes bench for all of the First Grade matches.
Soon the conversation shifts to Niki’s goals for the future, is A-League out of the question? What about playing overseas like your brother? Like with every other question that I posed to him on this sunny Sunday afternoon he tackles it with poise and reflection.
“I just want to go as far as I can, to play professionally has always been my goal, if I can reach that then I will create a new goal”.
For Loe, he is only just on his adventure in his footballing career and is still very young for a goalkeeper. It is very well known in footballing circles that goalkeepers develop better as they age. For someone of his age to have already played a handful of appearances in First Grade bodes well for his future prospects.
For this season Loe’s goals are manageable and well thought out. “For the upcoming season my goals are to continue improving my game and do my best to cement a starting position in the team”. Last year was a great start but Loe mentioned to me that he doesn’t want that to be a “flash in the pan” and needs to make “progress”.
How will Niki Loe fare in the future is still very much up in the air, who of us know the path that we will walk in the future.
One thing is for sure about Niki though, he is a man that knows what he wants and there is no one that can stop him from reaching fulfillment in that.