COLERAINE midfielder Lewis Nevin caught up with Chronicle Sports Editor Damian Mullan as he juggles footballing ambition with Head Boy duties at Dalriada School…
It promises to be a busy year for talented teenager Lewis Nevin.
A first team debutant in the New Year’s Day win at Carrick Rangers, Lewis hopes to continue his footballing education as part of Oran Kearney’s squad.
But alongside that, he will take on the role of Head Boy at Dalriada School in Ballymoney, having come through a rigorous application process just recently.
“I’m delighted and honoured to have been chosen as Head Boy,” admits Lewis.
“It’s quite a long process where you have to submit an application form and undergo an interview so I’m glad it’s all over now.”
It’s the second time the 17-year-old has been selected for the honour – he was head boy during his primary school days at Macosquin PS – which reflects the standing he is held in by his peers.
And that’s something he hopes to replicate in his fledgling football career at The Showgrounds.
A product of Bertie Peacock Youths, the Ringsend youngster joined the Bannsiders in September 2018 and quickly progressed through the U-16 and U-18 ranks before breaking into the Reserves.
His progress continued when he began training with the first team squad and culminated in a debut senior appearance at Carrick’s Belfast Loughshore Arena at the turn of the year.
“To be honest, I was less nervous than I thought I was going to be,” admits Lewis.
“I suppose sitting on the bench it’s easy to come on if the team is winning by two or three goals but we were only winning 1-0 when I came off the bench.
“Thankfully, we ended up winning 2-0, and I’m just grateful to the manager for showing faith in me and putting me on.”
And now that he’s had a taste of first team action, he wants more.
“It’s a different environment completely and it just makes you want so much more,” continues the Year 14 student.
“I would love to establish myself in the squad but there are some great players in my position of centre midfield.
“Being able to learn from the likes of Stephen (Lowry) and Jarvy is incredible. I can learn so much from them in how they play, prepare for games and look after themselves.
“When I was younger and supporting Coleraine I would have watched Stephen on a Saturday and to be involved now alongside him is incredible.”
It also helps having a manager who works as a teacher in his day job.
“Oran has been brilliant for me – he’s always encouraging me and giving me tips and he’s like that with all the young players. He doesn’t mollycoddle us and he expects us to behave like young professionals.
“He has shown great faith in me which is brilliant but you can see from the rest of the boys how much respect they have for him.
“They want to perform for him but can still have a laugh at the same time.”
And when Oran’s not around, mum and dad – Barbara and Rodney – make sure that football and studying are given equal prominence.
“Dad would be more into the football to be honest while mum looks after the school work more,” says Lewis, who hopes to pursue a career in sport science at university in the future.
“My dad played for Macosquin and rarely misses any of my games while my mum makes sure I don’t get too wayward when it comes to the books.
“It can be hard sometimes striking a balance but you just have to be disciplined and, so far, everything has worked out well.”
A quick learner you might say.