Phoenix youngsters rewarded for commitment

Six members of the club’s football Academy – Joe Bell, James McGarry, Logan Rogerson, Sarpeet Singh, Ben Stroud and Sam Wilson – have been selected in the New Zealand under-17 squad to play against Qatar and Croatia in Doha from May 22 to 29.

Singh recently arrived in Wellington from the Onehunga club and the Wellington Phoenix Soccer School in Auckland, while Rogerson came via Hamilton Boys’ School, Hamilton Wanderers and the WaiBop Federation Talent Centre.

Bell, McGarry, Stroud and Wilson were part of the Phoenix reserve side that was competitive in the ASB Championship despite being the youngest in the competition.

Bell, McGarry and Wilson transferred to the Phoenix Academy from its predecessor, APFA Academy in Christchurch.

All six players will go straight from Doha to Hong Kong where they will take part in the Hong Kong Football Club’s Citibank Soccer Sevens.

In the group stages the young Phoenix side will come up against English Premier League club Aston Villa.

Wellington Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick said both competitions would be an exciting experience for the youngsters.

“Working under Academy head coach Jess Ibrom and with our reserve team coach Andy Hedge these boys are developing all the time,” Merrick said.

“These are very talented young players but we are looking for commitment just as much as skills.

“Their willingness to learn has been fantastic and playing in competitions such as Doha and Hong Kong is a reward for their efforts.

“I also respect their previous clubs for allowing them to move to Wellington to pursue a career in professional football.”

The New Zealand Under 17 squad is:  Jack Anderson (East Coast Bays FC), Joe Bell (Wellington Phoenix), Oliver Ceci (North Shore Utd), Reuben Clark (Onehunga Sports), Luke Johnson (North Shore Utd), Ben Mata (Onehunga Sports), James McGarry (Wellington Phoenix), Connor Probert  (Western Springs FC), Logan Rogerson (Wellington Phoenix), Dane Schnell (Western Springs FC), Jack-Henry Sinclair (North Shore Utd), Sarpreet Singh (Wellington Phoenix), Sean Skeens (Birkenhead Utd), Ben Stroud (Wellington Phoenix), Sam Wilson (Wellington Phoenix), Michael Woud (Bay Olympic FC).