When told by his parents two years ago that as a family they were leaving Cape Town to live in Auckland, 16-year-old Ryan de Vries thought they were joking.

For the first couple of weeks here it was, he admits, "okay". Since then his enthusiasm has picked up to the extent "soccer mad" de Vries now has his sights set on representing his adopted country.

Immigration requirements stand in his way but he hopes the paperwork can be sorted out.

"When we arrived it was a three-year wait to get a New Zealand passport," said de Vries, who wasted no time in showing out as a better-than-average footballer and is now eyeing more game time for Waitakere United in tomorrow's NZFC grand final.

"It is now out to five years, but we are hoping that we might be able to get around that in light of our arrival in 2008 before the rules changed. We are in the process of applying for a passport now. We will just have to wait and see."

Should be become eligible, de Vries could be in line for national honours at under-20 level and later a chance to win a place in the next under-23 Olympic team.

Beyond that he hankers after an All Whites shirt. Soccer consumes much of his life. As well as being a "super sub" in the Waitakere first team, he has just completed the National Youth League season.

"It does not bother me coming off the bench for the senior team," said de Vries who has often been injected in the last 20 or so minutes and immediately put pressure on tiring defences.

"I understand the situation and I'm learning all the time. Our coaches [Neil Emblen, Darren Bazeley and Carl Jorgensen] have been great. I have learned so much from them and they have developed me a lot."

His season with Waitakere United is winding down although he will be part of their two biggest matches of the season - tomorrow's final and the second leg of the O-League final on Sunday week. He will then divide his time between 1st XI football for Glenfield College and Northern Premier club Forrest Hill Milford.

Asked whether he preferred summer soccer or the heavier grounds in winter, de Vries had no hesitation.

"I like summer better. The high-tempo, quick football on the harder grounds keeps you guessing. I enjoy that."

His club has been very supportive in allowing him to extend his stay at Waitakere.

He now wants to help them win through to December's Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi.

That will be a massive challenge after the 3-0 loss to Hekari United last weekend.

De Vries missed that trip through injury but is now fully recovered and ready to play a Canterbury side who inflicted a 4-0 defeat on Waitakere the last time they met - their heaviest loss of the season - but one de Vries was, thankfully, not part of.


Waitakere United v Canterbury United

Fred Taylor Park

Tomorrow 2pm (live SS3)

Referee: Jamie CrossPrevious finals2008-09: Waitakere United 1 Auckland City 2.

2007-08: Waitakere United 2 Team Wellington 0.

2006-07: Waitakere United 2 Auckland City 3.

2005-06: Auckland City 3 Canterbury United 3 (after extra time; City won 4-3 on penalties).

2004-05: Auckland City 2 Waitakere United 2.