Two minutes on the pitch was the goal for Hamilton based footballer Grace Wisnewski before the start of the U-17 World Cup in Uruguay.

Since then, the 16 year old has played a part in each game of New Zealand's U-17 FIFA World Cup campaign, scoring against Uruguay in the group stages, and slotting home a penalty in the quarter final win against Japan.

After falling to Spain 2-0 in the semi final, New Zealand claimed a historic win against Canada to claim the bronze medal.

Grace scored both goal, including the fastest ever goal at an U17 tournament, scoring 15 seconds after kick off.


On Wednesday, her biggest fans, Dad, Phillip, Mum, Fiona and older brother Kyle flew to South America to surprise and support her for the semi-final match up against Spain on Thursday morning.

Kyle told Hamilton News, after landing in South America, that they had managed to catch up with her before the game, and that she was ecstatic to see them.

However her Dad, Phillip Wisnewski, said that before the tournament, she had doubts that she would not even make it onto the pitch.

"She was saying if I get two minutes on the pitch, I am going to be stoked," Phillip said.

"I said to her you have to aim high and she said I will but if I get those two minutes I'd be stoked."

The tournament caps a year of personal success for Grace, who helped Hamilton Wanderers finish in their highest position of third in the LottoNRFL.

Still developing, Grace was a key player in Hamilton Wanderers 2018 campaign, scoring multiple important goals, including two world class efforts against Glenfield Rovers in the first round of the season.

Grace Wisnewski in action for Hamilton Wanderers against Three Kings. Photo / Grant Stantiall
Grace Wisnewski in action for Hamilton Wanderers against Three Kings. Photo / Grant Stantiall

Despite that success, Phillip said it was her brothers, Kyle, Logan, and her twin Blake, that have pushed her to become a better player.


"Her two older brothers both played football, we wanted her to play a team sport and she just followed on with them."

Her brothers have had success in their own footballing paths, representing Melville United, while Logan was selected earlier in the year for the New Zealand U-18 Futsal squad.

"The funniest thing we used to do is when she was six is we would kick the ball out, and the first one to score wins, and it would be her and her brother and all jokes aside it just used to be fierce."

"Each one would desperately want to win it was funny, a bit of child abuse, but it taught her that whole aggression and determination."

He said Grace would be often outside kicking a ball when possible, however in the house he has also had to be careful of stray footballs.

"You're having to walk carefully not to trip over a football or you are walking down the hallway and you'll get one whipped between your legs."

Phillip said that he never expected the team to make it so far, but has called the entire U17 squad a fresh breath of air to New Zealand Football.

In October an independent review, of New Zealand Football, upheld complaints by members of the Football Ferns about the organisation's conduct and culture.

"You can just see that the team now has a wonderful, wonderful culture," Philip said, as the family packed for the trip to South America

"It is a lot better than it was before."

"We are there for a week, because we are guaranteed two games anyway as they will play a third and fourth anyway."