Perhaps the best way to erase the pain of defeat is to heed the lessons of failure and return to the site of the setback stronger.
In 2018, Tauranga Boys’ College First XI was beaten narrowly in the final of the Super 8 football competition by Hamilton Boys’ High School.
On Wednesday, with three returning players from last year’s roster, Tauranga won the Super 8 title for the first since 2007; thumping New Plymouth Boys’ High School 4-0 in the final.
Riley Bidois, Stan Rust and Scott Hawkins, runners-up a year ago, scored three of the four goals with skipper Hawkins applying the exclamation mark after his side led 3-0 at halftime.
“We tried not to focus on last year, but it was talked about before the final,” Hawkins admits.
“New Plymouth was a good side and they had a big home crowd out for it. Our early goal was important to silence them.”
In the semi-final, Tauranga managed to silence Hamilton Boys’ High School 2-1. Goals were scored by Rust and Alfie Cole, before Hamilton predictably launched a rally.
“They scored with about 15 minutes to go. It got a little nervy as they pressed, but our defence was strong,” Hawkins acclaimed.
Tauranga’s defence wilted in their inconsequential group game against Palmerston North Boys’ High School. Having already qualified for the semi-finals, Tauranga rested some key talent and was beaten 1-3.
In their first two group games, Tauranga accounted for Gisborne Boys’ High School 3-0 and Hastings Boys’ High School 7-0. In the Gisborne game goals were scored by Cole, Braxton Fisher, and Max Came. The highlight of the Hastings rout was a hat-trick to Fisher.
In addition to their Super 8 triumph, Tauranga - by virtue of their success against Hamilton in the semis - won the Waikato/Bay of Plenty qualifying zone for Nationals. Tauranga was sixth at the Nationals last year and Fisher is hopeful Tauranga can at least match that performance.
“We aim to win every game we play. We’ve got a good team and though competition is tough we’ll back ourselves.”
The Nationals are in Napier in September during Winter Tournament Week.
Riley Bidois was recently named in the New Zealand Under-17 training squad while Hawkins, originally from the South of London, plays in central defense.
Interestingly Tauranga have won the Super 8 four times with three of those successes in New Plymouth.
Coach Neil Howard has won six Super 8 titles across three sports while co-ocach Alex Bryant lost finals in 2012, 2015 and 2018.
Having already played in the New Zealand Football National Youth Futsal Championships (NYFC) U-16 boys category, Oscar Yee believes this will be very beneficial when he steps on the court in Wellington next week.
2017 was the first year Yee represented Auckland in Futsal, turning out for the U-15 side where he went on to be named Most Valuable Player of the Tournament. In 2018 the then 15-year old, was named Captain of the U-16's.
"It is less about the nerves now and more about handling the pressure to achieve success," the 16-year old said.
"As Captain you get to know the players' strengths and weaknesses really well and having played the other teams before you get to match up their weaknesses with your strengths. It's a challenge, but also a lot of fun."
Yee's passion for the five-a-side game is not just as a player. The Year 12 ACG Parnell College student also referees and gives back to his school through coaching. "I enjoy coaching at school because the players are very interactive and filled with energy which makes them fun to coach and easier to develop as players as they are eager to learn. "It also gives me a 360 degree experience as I play, ref and now coach Futsal allowing me to see the game from all points of view which helps develop my knowledge of the game."
The College's Futsal Programme is this year lead by Ouadhah Ragued, a former New Zealand Futsal representative and one of the countries top Futsal coaches meaning Yee is in a perfect position to build up his coaching knowledge.
"Ouadhah is an excellent coach and I've learnt a lot from him already such as knowing when to have fun and when to be serious and how to keep the players engaged. "As this is my first time coaching Futsal, he has set a really good example for me to follow."
His focus will solely be on playing next week however with the NYFC taking place from July 12 - 14. "It is a huge privilege being able to play for Auckland and represent them at a National Tournament," Yee said.
The NYFC take place at the ASB Sports Centre in Wellington
Story provided by ACG Parnell College.
The New Zealand Under-17 women’s football team stunned the World last year when they finished third at the FIFA World Cup, the highest placing by a Kiwi team in a major FIFA tournament.
Goalkeeper Anna Leat, presently on scholarship at Georgetown University, won the SPS Handa Halberg Award for New Zealand’s Favourite Sporting Moment. Leat made a series of spectacular saves in the quarter final penalty-shootout against Japan to propel New Zealand into the top four.
Ariana Gray from Hutt Valley High School was a keen observer of Leat’s feats and concedes there is some pressure to match her excellence when she appears for New Zealand in an U-16 tournament from 14 to 22 July in Weifang City, China.
“There’s a little bit of pressure because I want to do the best for my country. It’s an exciting challenge to have such a high benchmark,” Gray said.
No players are returning from last year’s U-17 World Cup, but Grays insists New Zealand are a “tight unit” with plenty of talent.
“We’ve been through a whole lot of rep camps together so we know each other pretty well. We have a good chemistry and heaps of talent.”
Gray is the only Wellington selection and laughs she “screamed” when receiving email notification of her selection which she attributes to the Petone club and her parents.
“Petone have been amazingly supportive. We often train with the men who really push us. I’d like to thank my parents, they’re amazing.”
Gray started her football as a striker in Year 6. She is also a defender in netball and an avid touch player having traveled to the Gold Coast with a New Zealand team who won an international title.
Gray’s primary focus at present is football. New Zealand’s opposition in China isn’t yet confirmed, but coach Leon Birnie stressed it will be a learning curve.
“It will be a real eye-opener for the players in terms of the level required and, for the staff, it’s an excellent opportunity for us to see what these players can do. They need to go out and showcase themselves, both individually and collectively. It should give us real clarity around where we’re at, which would be a good space to be in 15 months out from the World Cup.”
Following the U-16 tournament thoughts will turn to the Oceania qualifiers for the World Cup, which are scheduled to take place this December.
Gray concluded by praising the management of Birnie.
“Leon’s a really nice guy. He’s a real technical coach, but he knows when to have a laugh. I’m really confident were going to do well.”
New Zealand squad for U-16 women’s tournament in China
Ariana Gray (Capital/Petone/Hutt Valley High School)
Murphy Sheaff (Australia)
Ella Dorward (Northern/Forrest Hill Milford United/Westlake Girls’ High School)
Kate Taylor (Mainland/Cashmere Technical/Marian College)
Claudia Wilson (Mainland/Cashmere Technical/Burnside High School)
Freya Lodge-Whitham (Mainland/Waimakiriri United/Christchurch Girls’ High School)
Zoe McMeeken (Mainland/Selwyn United/Lincoln High School)
Alaina Grainger (Northern/Forrest Hill Milford United/Mt Albert Grammar School)
Samantha Senior (Mainland/Cashmere Technical/Rangi Ruru Girls’ School)
Alyssa Whinham (Mainland/Halswell United/Riccarton High School)
Mona Walker (Australia)
Kate Duncan (Auckland/Three Kings United/Baradene College)
Nina Kondo (Capital/Wairarapa United/Solway College)
Ava Pritchard (Northern/Forrest Hill Milford United/Westlake Girls’ High School)
Charlotte Lancaster (Central/Taradale/Napier Girls’ High School)
Ella Russ (Auckland/Three Kings United/Diocesan School for Girls)
Lisa Evans (WaiBOP/Otumoetai/Otumoetai College)
Alisha Braun (Auckland/Eastern Suburbs/Epsom Girls’ Grammar School)
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