New keeper up to challenge

By ANENDRA SINGH sports editor

Auckland City Tournament

U17 soccer

LIKE any focused teenager, William Stockill certainly knows what he wants from life but, just occasionally, he loves a good laugh, too.

His father, Adrian Stockill, does a pretty good job of ensuring he doesn't lose that humorous vein.

"He likes to think he's taught me everything," the younger Stockill says of his father who also slips on the goalkeeping gloves in the social grade of the Port Hill United Soccer Club in Napier.

Jocularity aside, Stockill is mindful his father, a business development manager with Transfield Worley, makes perfect sense when he advises him that his future in the beautiful game lies as a goalkeeper with his new Bluewater Napier City Rovers Club from this winter.

Forget any stunning goals he may have struck in the fourth grade from breathtakingly 20m-plus distances as a midfielder while playing alongside his father for Port Hill last winter.

Out go any silverware he may have collected in the age-group grades in any sport that hinted he had immense potential to scale the dizzying heights of top-level competition.

"Dad's encouraged me all the way and he's told me I'll go the furthest as a goalkeeper because of my height," says the 1.9m tall player who is in his final year at Napier Boys' High School.

The first XI team member, who turns 17 on April 4, only started goalkeeping last year.

In an early test, Stockill will captain the Napier City Rovers Under-17 team from today when they compete for the first time in the Auckland City age-group tournament.

The Rovers are in pool one with Central United, Waitakere United, Papakura, Forest Hill Milford and North Wellington in a relatively new tourney modelled on the annual Rovers' under-19 one held at Park Island, Napier.

Coach Matt Hastings says the Rovers received an invitation to compete for the first time and he only had six weeks to prepare against sides who have built a sense of cohesiveness for two years.

"We started off training one night a week but shifted to three nights in the past two weeks.

"We will be competitive and our objective is to go up there to win a few games and not just make up the numbers," says former Kinectic Electrical Hawke's Bay United player Hastings, who has Scotsman and goalkeeper Kyle Baxter as his assistant.

The Rovers U17 team have played a warm-up game against the New World Havelock North Wanderers premiership side and, despite having lost 4-0, have gained invaluable experience as a unit and learned how to cope with the physicality only men's teams can provide.

For Stockill, who will captain the Rovers this weekend, Baxter is his first specialist goalkeeping coach after the schoolboy's debut season as a gloveman last year with his NBHS team.

Cricket was Stockill's main sport as a bowler for the Napier Technical Old Boys age-group teams from under-10 to under-15s and his father and mother Karen enjoyed watching him play.

He attributes his goalkeeping hand-eye skills to his cricketing prowess.

However, he has made the successful transition from accepting soccer is where his future lies and, while less involved, standing between the sticks is eventually going to benefit him more than a field position.

"I will be playing for better teams, I'll have better coaches and more opportunities so I'm enjoying it very much."

The brother of talented basketballer Josie Stockill, on a scholarship to the Colgate University in New York, he acknowledges he did fleetingly think about slipping on oversized shorts to emulate his sister but, ultimately, opted to follow his heart. "I thought for awhile how well she's doing but I wanted to do something I enjoy." He prefers to see it as following in his sister's steps but in a different sport.

ROVERS SQUAD:  William Stockill (captain, gk), Connor Underhill, Luke Horn, Stu Campbell, Mark Atkins, Dominic Nash, Tyler Antis, Harry Fautley, Hamish Hall, Daniel Schaab, Jett Hogg, Reuben Thurston, Joel Gearey, Brigham Fraser, Fane Morgan, Morgan Mclellan, Peter Whittington, Bradley Perks.



- Hawkes Bay Today

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