Football: Marvellous Marvin adapts to new role


In the world of any sport, a 1.78m bloke weighing 77kg falls within the ambit of Hobbits.
A statistically challenged Marvin Eakins isn't about to argue with that.
"Yeah, Dad's stocky so I wouldn't have minded a bit more height," the Hawke's Bay United defensive midfielder says with a laugh.
The 24-year-old son of Republic of Ireland-born Michael Eakins and Filipina mum Aida will be in Bay United's mix for the match against table-toppers Waitakere United at Fred Taylor Park, Auckland, in the 2pm kick-off today.
Just as it'll be a tall order to beat Waitakere, Eakins knew from an early age that his slight build would always pose a challenge for someone who prefers to play in the engine room with a partiality towards attacking.
"It's something I've worked on as I got older. I learned from school age that people will push you around so I've had to counter that with technique and speed," says the New Zealand Futsal captain, adding he discovered quickly that in a 50/50 situation he had to put his body on the line.
"Fitness helps but I'm always trying to get stronger," says Eakins, who shows great vision and agility on the field but lauds skipper Jonathan Taylor and fellow centre-back Bill Robertson for their support.
"They are the two best defenders who play behind me," he says, but today young Marama Thompson will again assume the mantle of centre-back as former All White Taylor returns from suspension while Englishman Robertson departs for at least three weeks for surgery to his injured hand.

All White midfielder Cole Peverley returns from America following a successful Major League Soccer contract but a knee injury means he won't play today.
Aucklander Eakins has now settled in Napier with girlfriend Emma Northcott, working fulltime at Smith Sports Shoes, and is committed to fulfilling his role as a defensive midfielder.
He has signed a contract with Cru Bar Maycenvale United who will make their debut in the Central League this year, the premier winter competition.
A former Manurewa AFC player in the Northern Premiership League for the past three seasons, Eakins believes the summer premiership will come down to the wire in their last-round match against Waikato United at Park Island, Napier, as the bottom four teams jostle for the fourth place in the semifinals.
"But getting four to six points in the next two games (away against Team Wellington next Sunday) will make life easier."
The Bay camp is mindful Waitakere still have to secure the minor premiership title so they will come out at full throttle, despite losing Fijian international striker Roy Krishna to a dislocated wrist in their O-League defeat to AS Tefana.
Sean Lovemore has also answered Wellington Phoenix's SOS to compete in tonight's A-League match against the Queensland Fury in the capital city.
Waitakere have never lost on their home turf to the Bay and Eakins acknowledges the unavailability of linchpins doesn't detract from the fact that they boast depth and a plethora of quality youngsters itching to fill the void.
Paramount to the Bay's mental frailty is ensuring they finish the job when they are leading in a match, for example, when they were 2-0 up at halftime against Team Wellington at home this season but succumbed 3-2 in the second half.
"Conceding three goals in one half is unforgivable.
"The beauty of football is if you put a good 90 minutes together then you'll give the opposition a good run for their money."
Eakins is indebted to his father, a retired storeman who came to New Zealand from the Republic of Ireland, for his passion for the beautiful game.
"I used to go everywhere with my dad to watch games," says the man who started at the Papakura club from the age of 7.
"My parents drove me around to games, put my boots on and are still my No1 supporters," he says, revealing his father still believes the Bay can make the top four despite their inconsistent season.
Ex-All White Chris Turner, who coached at Papakura, University and Mt Wellington clubs, remains his best coach.
Two of his notable players are Chris Bright, playing in Europe, and Waitakere's Jason Rowley.
Dubbed "The Situation", after the character in the TV reality show Jersey Shore "because of a similar haircut", Eakins champions his passion for futsal but reveals it may hold back his commitment to football.
His dream is to secure a futsal contract abroad.
"Futsal puts you in tighter areas and improves your touch and vision and helps your movement and thinking.
"If you don't think quickly then you'll find the Solomon Islanders coming down on you," he says, after the Solomons team won the Oceania championship in Suva, Fiji, where Bay United and national futsal coach Matt Chandler first approached him to come here.
Eakins chewed on the invite, saying it was a big move for someone who lived in the big smoke all his life.
Convincing girlfriend Northcott was equally testing but she came and returns to Auckland soon to complete her tertiary education in event management after working at a cafe in Napier over summer.
The Aucklanders, though, are sold on middle earth.
"You can't complain about the weather and it's awesome being close to the water."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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