Football: First XI up for the big stage

By Campbell Burnes

Jamie Barry, 14, hopes to get plenty of game time with the First XI this year. Picture / Nick Reed
Jamie Barry, 14, hopes to get plenty of game time with the First XI this year. Picture / Nick Reed

Jamie Barry is as excited as anyone about Mt Roskill Grammar First XI football's promotion to the premier league this season.

The 14-year-old, Year 10 centre back has had a good taste of training with the side and was in the squad, though unused, in Saturday's 3-0 opening round defeat to St Kentigern. He saw how well the First XI did last season, winning the Senior A1 championship and securing a premier berth for the first time since 2001.

"It's going to be a big leap, but I think the team can do it."

Barry is quiet by nature, but when he takes the pitch there is a fire in the belly.

He comes from a futsal background, having started in Year 8 under Mt Roskill Grammar's director of football Callum Christopher. That form of football is a good development tool, giving younger players plenty of touches on the ball.

"It improves your decision-making a lot faster," Barry says.

The Mt Roskill Grammar First XI, like the Mt Roskill suburb, draws on many different ethnicities, and Barry says there is a strong bond in the side, whether they be from Brazil, Somalia or New Zealand, like him.

"When you are playing together, diving for the ball and showing commitment, it makes you closer. The team is like a family."

Barry, like most of the First XI, is in the best shape of his life, having trained assiduously since October in preparation for the big time of the premier league.

Last year he mostly played for the 13As at school, though he did appear in the Malcolm Cowie national tournament for the First XI, where Mt Roskill Grammar placed third. Coach Maksim Manko likes to work with a large squad and is not afraid of promoting Year 9s and 10s to his top line-up.

"I'd like to get as much time as possible with the First XI this year," declares Barry.

Longer-term, though rep honours have eluded him so far, he is keen to advance far enough to take up a football scholarship to the USA. That would represent a tribute to the quality of the growing Mt Roskill Grammar football programme.

- NZ Herald

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