Rising football star Jarvis Vaai has turned plenty of heads playing for Hastings Boys' High School and Havelock North Wanderers, and hopes to do the same when he links up with South American giants Fluminense FC.
Vaai, 18, who was born and raised in Samoa, has been given the opportunity to join a football centre in Peru run by one of Brazil's biggest football clubs Fluminense FC.
The striker, who can also play on the wing, leaves for Peru next week and plans to stay for at least a year while training and playing football.
Two Fluminense scouts are set to travel from Brazil to Peru to watch him play in February and assess his talent and potential.
"It's a privilege. It's a blessing to see this kind of opportunity. Where I am going, it is a Brazilian professional club.
"I wanted to go and play overseas. I am still developing and learning. When you go overseas [to certain countries] football is a massive thing and that is what I wanted," he said.
"I'm hoping by God's will upon my life that I become better as a footballer."
One of his coaches in Hawke's Bay, Carlos Roberto Paulette, from Hawks Football Centre, had contacts in South America and helped Vaai land a spot at the centre.
"He told me I can reach that top level of football as a career if I am willing to put the effort in and work hard."
Vaai grew up in Samoa and already has a cap for the national men's side. He moved to New Zealand when he was 13 after being offered a football scholarship with Hastings Boys' High School.
He has helped the school win multiple regional titles and was also part of Havelock North Wanderers' incredible season last year, which saw the club promoted into the Central League.
"I play as a number 9 or as a striker, and sometimes they play me on the wing."
He said it was his dream to play professional football and he was willing to put in the hard work to make it.
Paulette, who hails from Peru and has coached and worked for football clubs across the globe including in the junior ranks at Tottenham FC, said Vaai had a good attitude and was humble which was important for his development.
"What we are planning is have him play for any professional club in South America for a year or two," he said, after his joining the centre.
Vaai and Paulette are still raising money to cover the costs of getting him to Peru and getting him set up there.
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