Australian attacking midfielder Daniel Bouman is thriving in Holland and has set his sights on breaking into the Eredivisie.
Dutch-born Bouman, who was raised in Sydney, has been on the books of Groningen since 2014 when he joined as a teenager.
Now 20, the midfielder has caught the eye this season for Groningen’s Under-23s.
Bouman has bagged eight goals and four assists in just 15 appearances.
He has trained with the first-team several times and the Manly United junior is working hard towards a debut for Danny Buijs’ side.
Playing as a number 10, in central midfield and even on the left wing on occasion, Bouman has caught the eye over the past seven months.
“This season has definitely been one of my better ones at Groningen,” Bouman told The World Game.
“I’ve definitely been performing well and I’ve been picking up quite a lot of goals, which is going well. At the beginning of the season I had a few injuries, I missed a couple of matches but then got back on the pitch and got a place in the starting XI, and since then I haven’t really lost it.
“I’ve got eight goals now so I’m top-scorer of our team and of the first-team. My goal obviously is just to continue scoring with the U23s and then if I can, start training with the first-team. At the beginning of the season I did that once and a while until I got injured.
“At the Christmas break the first-team brought in a whole bunch of players because they were doing really poorly, and that included one or two midfielders and one or two attackers. They haven’t been bringing players up from the Under-23s to train as much [lately] as they did in the first half of the season.
“But my goal is to break into the first-team.”
Bouman was born in Holland, to a Dutch father and an Australian mother, but moved to Sydney with his family at the age of four.
He spent his junior years playing for GHFA Spirit, Manly United and Blacktown City, before he and his family relocated back to the Netherlands in 2014.
It was there that Bouman linked with the Green-White Army and has steadily worked his way up through the club’s youth teams.
The playmaker believes his time at the Eredivisie outfit has had a hugely positive impact on his development.
“I wanted to push myself and see what the standard was in the Netherlands, and see if I could do it there as well,” he said.
“I had the idea that if you want to go pro, starting at a young age in Europe and building your technique and breaking through there was an option… you could see how often [young] players have struggles with breaking into the A-League. So we made the decision to move as a young player and build my way up there.
“It’s been a rollercoaster at Groningen, but a really good one. I’ve made a lot of progression in my football. When I first joined the tempo was a lot higher and you could just tell from everything, all the boys I was training with had been training at such a high level the whole time.
“You could just tell by the passing was a lot harder and firmer, the first touch every time was that bit better. Also physically – you always think Australian football is physical because we are a country of rugby – but here it is always physical, but in a different way.
“It’s how you use your body, how you keep the ball and the aggression. Also the aggression in training because it is like a match, everyone wants to win in training. It’s just that mentality.
“I went from training two to three times a week in Australia and now with the Under-23s I’m training sometimes eight times a week as well as a game. It’s just a whole different level.”
Bouman has dual Australian and Dutch nationality and has been in contention for junior Australian national teams in the past.
He has been involved in a Young Socceroos training camp on the Central Coast, but is yet to earn an official cap in the green and gold.
Bouman said he would “love to play for Australia” one day.
“A couple of years ago I first got a message from the one of the coaches of the Under-20s, saying I was on the their radar,” Bouman said.
“For a long period of time I had to fill in every day some app online saying how training was and this and that, because I was on the extended squad for one of the Asian tournaments. That was about two or three years ago.
“Then I was back in Australia visiting family one time, and they had heard I was back. I took part in a training camp on the Central Coast. After that I was on an extended list for a tournament again, but it’s never really come to anything.
“But I’d love to play for Australia, I’d love play for the Young Socceroos or the Olyroos. It would be a dream.”