Whangamata Area School Year 10 student Sebastian Alchin has only been playing football for four years - but he has just been hand-picked for the Wellington Phoenix Football Academy.
The academy is the official youth development programme for the Wellington Phoenix Football Club.
In its first five years of existence, the programme has helped develop 13 players who have gained professional contracts and seven who received full scholarships at US universities.
Seven graduates earned full international All Whites caps.
The players will represent Wellington Phoenix during the NZ summer competition, and Sebastian's full-time attendance will see him access a range of sports science expertise and competition games all year round.
Sebastian was previously a rugby player and never gave football much thought.
"I started playing rugby when I was 6 or 7 years old. When my best friend moved down he suggested I give football a go."
It was love at first goal save.
Seb is a goalkeeper and at Year 10, will be off to Wellington to board at Scot's College so he can focus on football with the prestigious club.
To be part of the academy, players need to live in Wellington full time, so he'll return to Whangamatā in school holidays. He knows there'll be a big adjustment to starting at a new school in a big city.
But he's excited: "I can't wait."
Physio, gym and yoga sessions, personal development workshops, nutritional advice and education are all part of the package, as well as elite youth competition in the summer months.
Sebastian attended a three-day training camp with the Wellington Phoenix in the school holidays, where spotters were keeping an eye out for talent, and he was approached.
The programme aims to progress players into the club's 1st team in the Hyundai A-League and earn a professional contract.
However, they acknowledge that chances of earning a pro contract are low - research shows only between 2-5 per cent in football - so the academy provides multiple pathways to give each student athlete a strong education that can back up their plans to be a professional footballer. This might lead to further opportunities with scholarships to university in the US or New Zealand.
Seb was part of the Whangamata Area School High Performance Sport pathway programme in 2020 and principal Alistair Luke says the whole school is pleased.
"Obviously we're really proud of what he's achieved, he's a dedicated young man who's been travelling extensively for years to access the quality of football he needs to access to continue growing.
"He's been a really successful part of the academy this year in its first year, and he talked highly of what the academy has done for his confidence - both as an athlete and as a person - with mentoring from Brendan McKeown who runs the academy."
He says the school is "sad to see him go ... but we understand it's a necessary part of him taking the next step."
Seb says goalkeeping is about maintaining a positive attitude.
"My old coach used to say it's got to go through a whole team before it gets to you.
"My mum said to me I've got a really good mindset and I don't get down on myself, which I don't. I just pick myself up and keep going. "