Tauranga City's NRFL squad's Riley Bidois is making moves towards achieving his dream of securing a professional football contract.
The young footballer, who has been with Tauranga City AFC for two years, is leaving the club for his next challenge at the Wellington Phoenix and he's looking forward to the experience.
"The opportunity of joining the Wellington Phoenix is exciting and came about after playing in the Western Springs U17 men's tournament in March. I felt I had a good tournament and won the Golden Boot," Bidois said.
"Phoenix director Paul Temple emailed me a week later offering me a scholarship to the academy and said they had been watching me for about 18 months," he said.
Bidois has been in good form this season. He earned a call up to the New Zealand U17 Training Squad and narrowly missed out on final NZ U17 selection.
"It was a great opportunity and experience for me to be involved in a professional football environment. I enjoyed it," Bidois said.
He was part of Tauranga AFC's Northern Regional Football League (NRFL) squad as well, with the division 1 team being the only club representing the Bay in the NRFL competition. The club finished in a credible fifth place after a very strong second round including a six-game winning streak.
Bidois said he was had gained a lot from his time with Tauranga AFC.
"I've really enjoyed the two seasons I've had with Tauranga City. The high level of intensity at training and playing in the Northern league has really helped me progress as a footballer.
"I've been lucky to have great coaching staff like Barry Gardiner, Nic Millichip and Maia Ririnui, plus a great Senior team environment led by players like Raymond How and Tom Pamment. I was also lucky to have full support of Tauranga Boys' College coaches Neil Howard and Alex Bryant who worked with Tauranga City's coaching staff so I could still play in inter-school games and competitions such as Super 8 and nationals. They were all really supportive, encouraging and mindful of my workload.
"My goal is to continue progressing with my football with the hope of a professional contract in the future. I've been given a great start in Tauranga and can't thank Tauranga City and all of my coaches enough."
Director of football and First Team coach Barry Gardiner said Bidois' move was a chance to challenge himself further.
"When we see our players getting opportunities like this, we see it as a positive sign that the development pathways we're providing are working, so it's rewarding."
In 2018 TCAFC youth players Joe Chiari and Charlie Beale joined the Phoenix Academy as U15s.
Bidois still has one more outing in the sky blue uniform, as part of the club's U19 squad, which will be only Tauranga club competing in the premier grade of the U19 tournament in Napier this month.
However, Tauranga City chairperson Brendon McHugh was confident of seeing more of Bidois in the future.
"I've spoken to Riley and he's keen to come back and give back to the club, encouraging our next wave of talent coming through. It's great to see players like Riley, Joe and Charlie back as role models for other youth players."