With a name like Cooper Halfpenny, you just know this kid from Glenmore Park is going to be a star.
Just weeks after finishing his HSC, the 18-year-old is about to embark on the most exciting adventure of his life.
While his mates are finalising their plans for Schoolies, Halfpenny is packing his bags for Spain where he’ll spend the next 12 months playing professional football with U19 La Liga club Aravaca CF.
After three years with the Australasian Soccer Academy, Halfpenny’s coach Tony Basha put plenty of time and work into the talented centre-back, so he could eventually break into the European system and pursue his lifelong dream.
Speaking with the Weekender, the former McCarthy Catholic College student admitted he was both excited and nervous about what lies ahead.
“It’s exciting… it’s something that a lot of people can only dream of and I’ve dreamed of it my whole life,” Halfpenny said.
“It’s also very nerve-racking… obviously an 18-year-old going to live in a country like Spain – completely different language, completely different culture and during COVID – is something I’m looking forward to but also something I’m very scared about.”
Aravaca CF is based in the bustling city of Madrid, with Halfpenny living roughly a five to 10-minute walk from the stadium.
In the coming weeks he’ll take on powerhouse clubs like Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid, but all Halfpenny is worried about right now is how to order coffee and breakfast.
“When it comes to knowing much Spanish… I don’t know much at all. And the culture, I’m not too confident on,” he said.
“We have to do Spanish schooling, it’s compulsory, so I’m looking forward to learning more about the culture and the language.”
Halfpenny is hoping to remain abroad and potentially make Europe his home away from home.
“For me, this is just a start – getting out of the country and experiencing something different,” he said.
“I just want to get as much experience as possible and then from there I can either stay in Spain or venture out somewhere else.”
Nathan Taylor is the Weekender’s Deputy Editor and Senior Sports Writer. He also compiles the weekly Chatter on the Box TV column. Nathan is an award-winning journalist, who has worked at the Weekender for a decade.