Rose Morton’s parents Steve and Hana Cotter grew up playing hockey, touch and rugby. Today they have little choice but to embrace football.
All three of the Morton children are outstanding players.
Older brother Harry has nearly completed his scholarship at Hartwick College in New York State. Sarah recently debuted for the Football Ferns against Japan in Wellington and youngest daughter Rose is a member of the Future Ferns Domestic Programme (FFDP).
Originally from Tikokino in Central Hawke’s Bay, Rose has moved to Northcote College in Auckland to complete her schooling and strengthen her sporting ambitions.
“It was tough moving away from family and friends, but it’s the best thing for my football,” Rose explains.
“The competition in Hastings features a lot of new players and not as many good teams. In Auckland the best players in the country are training and learning together,” she continues.
Rose is one of 28 players involved in the FFDP, playing for the XI who compete in the Northern Football Federation 17th grade boys conference. Against seven other teams, FFDP have won 10 out of 14 games, standing second in the championship - outscoring all opponents 44-16.
“It’s pretty tough playing against boys. Their pace and physically is harder than a girls game. Boys don’t like losing, but they are getting better at it,” Rose responds when addressing the question of playing the opposite gender.
Rose is a central midfielder advancing forward from centre back. She also plays senior women's football for Western Springs.
“I’m too small to be at the back. I was being beaten at the header and bumped off the ball. I love central midfield where I can get forward and create,” Morton enthuses.
The ability to ‘get forward’ earned Rose selection for the New Zealand Under-17’s in 2016. New Zealand competed at the FIFA World Cup and beat hosts Jordan. The international experience was an eye opener for Rose.
“It’s crazy the opportunities other countries have in football. For some of them it’s the only thing they have. It taught me you need to combine balance with hard work and passion.”
In August, Sarah Morton will be attending her second FIFA Under-20 World Cup, having debuted for the Football Ferns in their controversial 1-3 loss to Japan on June 10. Football Ferns Coach Andreas Heraf was strongly criticized for his teams’ negative tactics in the game. Is Rose concerned by the defeat and the media’s appraisal of it?
“I think the media blew it up a lot. We have to remember teams play all kinds of styles,” Morton observes.
In addition to football, Rose is a confident public speaker having competed in Manu Korero, a prestigious Maori speaking competition.
“They're a strong, experienced side with strength at both ends. They are dogged defenders which allows us little time on the ball, while also being swift on the counter.”
It took a long time but National Secondary Schools football champions Hamilton Boys’ High School finally conquered the considerable challenge posed by Tauranga Boys’ College.
Three games in the last week between the fierce rivals ended with Hamilton claiming two narrow victories and a sixth Super 8 title.
Hamilton captain Logan Wisnewski is full of respect for the Titans.
“They're a strong side with strength at both ends. They’re dogged defenders which allows us little time on the ball, while also being swift on the counter.”
Last Wednesday a Scott Ellerington header ensured Tauranga dethroned Hamilton as the Waikato/Bay of Plenty champions.
As expected both sides easily won their opening two matches at the Super 8 tournament with Hamilton thrashing Rotorua Boys’ High School 5-0 and Gisborne Boys’ High School 6-2.
Grouped together in Pool B, the top qualifiers both decided to rest key players ahead of the finals, but Wisnewski insists the fixture wasn't a phony war.
“We won 2-1. It started kinda slow as both sides were cautious, but when things opened up there was some intense football. Wisnewski said.
Casey Sharplin and Daniel Ngungambili were the source of Hamilton’s goals.
In 2017, Napier Boys’ High School upset Hamilton on penalties in the decider of the Super 8. There would be no repeat 12 months later.
“Napier was a grudge match. We haven't forgotten what happened last year and we played really well beating them 2-0. They were a good side, but we were better on the day,” Wisnewski acclaims.
Hamilton’s goals were scored by Harry Stocker and Levi Clark, the former netting his 50th goal for the First XI.
It would be Wisnewski who would open Hamilton’s account in the final from the penalty spot, but Tauranga in their first climax since 2015 and seeking the prize for the first time since 2007 proved tough to foil.
“It was a really intense game. They stretched us on the edges and gave us little time on the ball. We tried to stick to our systems, but it wasn't always easy,” Wisnewski reveals.
Tauranga wing Alexander Elliott was especially menacing and a goal and an assist propelled Tauranga 2-1 ahead.
“I thought we needed fresh legs, but our coaches didn't panic,” Wisnewski concedes.
With 12 minutes remaining Hamilton levelled when striker Max Ericksen finished from 12 yards after a break by Levi Clark.
Clark would be in the action again a short time later. Wisnewski captures the drama.
“Levi darted down the left side and approached the goal. I'm not sure if he intended to shoot or cross, but the ball curled over the keeper and into the net, Wiseneski says.
The Super 8 is the last major schools tournament before the Nationals in September.
“We're all accountable for ourselves. As the captain I try and lead by example and assist the younger players, but everyone is expected to be honest, humble and give as much as they can,” Tom Stewart reveals when asked what's driving the success of the St Thomas of Canterbury College First XI football team.
St Thomas heads the Christchurch Secondary Schools competition having won all seven matches and outscored opponents 34 goals to four.
Highlights of the season include winning the Brentwood Trophy against Shirley Boys’ High School and the Connetics Shield against Burnside High School. The Connetics Shield is like the Ranfurly Shield of school football in Christchurch.
“A lot of the boys still find that game hard to talk about. It was a real heartbreaker and is the source of a lot of motivation,” Stewart rues when reflecting on the defeat to St Andrew’s College (STAC) in the 2017 Christchurch final.
St Thomas topped the regular season standings, but succumbed on penalties (4-3) in the decider. This year's first meeting was personal. What happened was extraordinary.
“We had a red card after 20 minutes and I thought ‘here we go again,’ but the boys caught fire and won 4-0. It was pretty special,” Stewart acclaimed.
St Thomas only lost three players from last season and only lose two for 2019. The team is coached by Richard Washington and Jacob Allen with management support from Blair Scadden who runs the junior development programme. In 2017 the year seven and eight intermediate side was seventh out of 57 teams at the Aims games.
Scadden is a former NZ Under-17 representative and Allen an ex Canterbury Dragons Squad Member.
Washington coached Allen as a student at St Thomas and together they combined to take St Thomas to the Nationals for only the third time in their history last year, finishing fourth. Stewart shares some memories of the camp gain.
“Nobody really knew who we were so we had nothing to lose. We won all three pool games before facing St Pats Wellington in the quarter final. Our goal keeper was sent off with 20 minutes to go which meant we had to put an outfield player into goal. Anton Smail was a hero. We managed to hold on to penalties and win the shootout,” he reflects.
The National semi-final was one-sided with Sacred Heart College scoring a commanding 3-0 win. What does St Thomas have to do to make the final in 2018?
“There's a bit more pressure on us this year because of that result. We have to stay grounded and not get too far ahead of ourselves. We have to trust our processes,” Stewart responds.
Most of the First XI plays men’s premier football on a Saturday in addition to training four times a week. Stewart was also captain of the New Zealand Secondary Schools team who toured the USA in April. The side played eight games with a notable victory against the Los Angeles Galaxy Academy.
“All of the Galaxy players are professionals. Their set up is pretty impressive so to beat them was a real highlight of a great tour,” Stewart enthuses.
St Thomas is growing its relationship with the CFA Academy and boasts All Whites legend Ryan Nelsen as an old boy.
In the school holidays St Thomas are playing a mini tournament against Nelson College and St Andrew’s College. The former beat St Thomas in the third place game at Nationals.
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