Young stars gearing up for big time
WELLINGTON Phoenix FC continues to take a leading role in the development of talented Kiwi footballers, with two more youngsters having completed a training stint with the country’s only fully professional club.
WELLINGTON Phoenix FC continues to take a leading role in the development of talented Kiwi footballers, with two more youngsters having completed a training stint with the country-s only fully professional club.
Auckland-s Tom Spragg, 15, and Hamilton-s Adam Thomas, 16, spent a week training with the Phoenix after being invited to link with the club by coach Ricki Herbert. Both youngsters took full part in team training and also played in the Phoenix-s training match against a Wellington Invitational XI on Sunday, May 25.
The visit was a bonus for Spragg, in particular, as he gets ready to join his Central United teammates in their assault on the Manchester United Premier Cup (World Finals) in England in August. The MUPC-Nike Cup gives under-15 footballers the chance to play on the international stage against fellow young players from around the globe.
Central United qualified for the showpiece tournament after beating Kapiti Coast United 5-1 in April to qualify for the Pacific finals in Melbourne, where they beat Newcastle 3-1 penalties. Spragg and Central United will now take on youth sides from global heavyweight clubs including Manchester United, Barcelona, Juventus and Middlesbrough.
Spragg said training with the Phoenix had been brilliant for his continuing development as a footballer.
Playing for the Phoenix against the Wellington XI had been a highlight. Spragg showed his immense talent on the right wing and drew plenty of attention from the good-sized crowd on hand to watch the pre-season warm-up.
“It was just so fast-paced. When we got on the Phoenix guys really supported us, letting us know what we needed to do at certain times and where we needed to be. They were encouraging us all the time. I was quite nervous when I first went on but as I got into the game I started to just focus on the football.”
Thomas, who was part of the Central United team that competed at the 2007 MUPC-Nike Cup, said the week with the Phoenix had been an eye-opener.
“It-s a big step up, a steep learning curve. But you-ve got to keep pushing yourself to keep improving and that-s what we had the chance to do here in Wellington.”
Herbert said the Phoenix were committed to helping developed talented Kiwi youngsters.
“It-s been great having a couple of really good young players down here and to be part of helping them develop. I think it goes to show the incredible growth of the game in this country and it-s pleasing to see some quality young players starting to rise through the ranks.
“Both these kids have very, very bright futures in front of them and I-m happy that the Phoenix has been able to play a part in their development.”