Soccer: Young guns aim for the stars

By Andre Zwan

Thirteen wannabe All Whites and Football Ferns from Central Football, Hawke's Bay have been selected to attend a five-day national training camp starting in Feilding from today.

Brooke Wylie, 12, of Taradale Intermediate, and Ross Willox, 14, of Hastings Boys' High, who is attending his fourth New Zealand Football camp, have definite ideas about their future in soccer.

Brooke, who will be attending her first one, hopes to represent the Football Ferns as a goalkeeper and Ross, a midfielder, aims to represent the All Whites and then further his career in Europe.

Brooke tried rugby, basketball and volleyball before deciding on soccer as her major sport. She wants to be good - good enough to turn professional.

"I never expected to be selected for this camp. It's so exciting," Brooke said. "My bag has been packed for days."

Ross said he hoped to be selected for various national age-group teams including the under-17 side to play in the 2015 World Cup.

It has not been an easy road for Brooke and Ross to reach this week's intensive training camp. They have been involved in various phases of Central Football's development programmes and trials.

Under the watchful eye of Central Football development officer Leon Birnie, the candidates have been involved in a nine-month programme of training twice a week and playing a game a month against other federations.

The players then went on trial against Capital (Wellington) and the best players from both regions were then selected to attend the national centre.

Said Birnie: "The New Zealand National Talent Centre identifies talent. The most talented players get the opportunity to train and develop their skills in a professional coaching environment in preparation for national age-group teams and age-group world cups.

"This programme exposes the participants to the demands of international football, raises awareness of their strengths and weaknesses and allows them to train and be coached by the best in the county."

Players also receive progress reports throughout the week to identifying their strengths and weaknesses.

Birnie will also be involved after an invite from the national centre to be a coach.

He recently obtained his senior level 3 coaching badge which is the highest qualification one can obtain in New Zealand.

Academy members: Rose Morton, Jorge Akers, Sam Skilton, Karan Maindair, Jackson Gordon, Brooke Wylie, Bradley Perks, Ross Willox, Logan Bensemann, Lauren Hartridge, Sarah Morton, Sophie Hoare, Vinnie MacKirdy.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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