New Plymouth Boys’ High School is not historically noted for its prowess in football, but 2015 was a landmark season.
For the first time the First XI won the Super 8 title. They finished tenth at the Nationals and achieved a winning record in their annual traditional fixtures.
Striker Drew Farnsworth was a big part of the teams’ success. The Year 12 student was the leading goal scorer and had an absolute blinder against St. Patrick’s College, Silverstream. He scored four goals in the annual clash, leading New Plymouth to their first win in nine years.
“That was an amazing game, very exciting, everything went right,” Farnsworth recalls.
In fact the performance won the hearts of the First XV rugby team who preformed an impromptu haka on the sidelines during the game.
“I think it’s the first time that’s ever happened. The whole school performs the haka for the First XV which is amazing, but to have that recognition for football was special,” Farnsworth admits.
The contribution of coach John Whittle was special. The Englishman is the director of football at New Plymouth and has improved New Plymouth’s national standing 11 places in a year. He helped Farnsworth earn selection for the National Secondary Schools’ team.
“John is a really good coach. He is a good motivator, but has a strong grasp of technical skills to. I am really proud to have worked with John,” Farnsworth says.
In July the New Zealand Schools’ will tour Australia and play four games against a nationwide invitation selection and A-Leauge academy sides. Was Farnsworth surprised to make the cut?
“Absolutely. There was a trail where everybody was really even and some guys were a bit older. I guess I have hard work to thank for my selection,” he says.
There are several training camps leading up to the tour, but Farnsworth’s immediate focus is on managing his move to Westlake Boys’ High School in Auckland. Why leave when New Plymouth is rapidly improving?
“It was a huge decision, leaving family and friends, but my goal is to become a professional footballer and I think moving to Auckland will improve my chances of achieving that. In New Plymouth we play in the Taranaki men’s grade which is ideal physically, but the skill level is not so good. I want to test myself against the best players in my age group,” Farnsworth explains.
The next wave of talented young players to set foot on the international stage were confirmed on Friday with the New Zealand U-17 Women’s side named for the OFC U-17 Women’s Championship in January.
New Zealand coach Gareth Turnbull named his 19-player squad for the tournament which produces the Oceania Football representative at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in Jordan in October 2016.
The group is drawn from all around the country with six of the seven regional federations represented and Turnbull says the selected players have travelled a long and detailed path to reach this point.
“We’ve really assembled this group based on almost two years of identification through a variety of different means; be it National Talent Centres, age-group tournaments, club-based tournaments, secondary schools and national league,” Turnbull said.
“It’s exciting to bring all of the pieces together for the first time and see where we can get to. It’s an incredibly talented group, certainly one of the more exciting groups at this level that we’ve been able to assemble.”
One of those highly-skilled youngsters comes from off shore with Canadian-based midfielder Gabrielle Jillings named in the team, someone Turnbull says has a bright future and who has been on the radar for over a year.
“Gabe has been part of the Vancouver Whitecaps acceleration programme and her father is a Kiwi. We brought her out for our first camp back in July where she excelled and we’ve monitored her since through weekly video footage. We’re excited to bring Gabe into the piece and she’s certainly a future Football Fern.”
With a core of the team working together in the NZF Development Squad in the ASB Women’s League over the past few months and other players impressing with their federations in the competition, Turnbull says the group have had a sound preparation for the challenge ahead in the Cook Islands.
“[In the Development team] we were able to give three months of good solid work to those individual players on the tasks required to achieve at international level and we saw the team got stronger the longer season went.
“We were also able to monitor and keep in touch with the wider members playing for the different regions through weekly footage of their games and regular communication with their coaches.”
Turnbull says the goal is clear for his team: secure the OFC berth in Jordan – but their focus will be on the smaller jobs on and off the field which will make that objective a reality.
“Simply, qualification is a must, so we’ll be going there to do that and hopefully do it well.
“What we don’t know is how the island nations will set up. We were quite surprised at the U-20s qualifications tournament where the teams played a more modern style of football and didn’t necessarily stay compact and have numbers behind the ball.
“They tried to play and had a high line which creates a lot of space. I’m not overly convinced that is the approach the U-17s will take so we may find it more challenging to break them down.
“But we don’t actually know, so the focus will be on us and our preparation and I think the big learnings will be all the things off the pitch.
“How we travel as group, how we recover in a hot climate, all of the educational components that goes along with an international tour. For the most part this is first time these girls have been away with an international team.
“It’s all the off-field things that we’ll be really focussing on for this qualification series to hopefully set them up for a long international career.”
New Zealand will contest Group A of the tournament and their opener is against Samoa on January 13 (January 14 NZ time).
New Zealand Women’s U-17 squad – Oceania U-17 Women’s Championships
CIFA Academy, Rarotonga, Cook Islands
January 13-23, 2016
Anna Leat – East Coast Bays AFC/Northern Football
Nadia Olla – Three Kings Utd/Auckland Football
Claudia Bunge – Glenfield Rovers/Northern Football
Michaela Foster – Claudelands Rovers/WaiBOP Football
Francesca Grange – Wellington Utd/Capital Football
Rebecca Lake – Coastal Spirit/Mainland Football
Amber Phillips – Massey University/Central Football
Ally Toailoa – Papatoetoe AFC/Auckland Football
Kate Williams – Claudelands Rovers/WaiBOP Football
Alosi Bloomfield – Lynn-Avon Utd AFC/Auckland Football
Maggie Jenkins – Onslow/Capital Football
Gabrielle Jillings – Surrey United/Canada
Sarah Krystman – Claudelands Rovers/WaiBOP Football
Nicole Mettam – Eastern Suburbs AFC/Auckland Football
Malia Steinmetz – Eastern Suburbs AFC/Auckland Football
Hannah Blake – Three Kings Utd/Auckland Football
Jacqui Hand – Eastern Suburbs AFC/Auckland Football
Emma Main – Upper Hutt City FC/Capital Football
Sam Tawharu – Lynn-Avon Utd AFC/Auckland Football
Head coach: Gareth Turnbull
Assistant coach: Owain Prosser
Goalkeeper coach: Jenny Bindon
Manager: Kelly Bolus
Physio: Hannah Dawson
Technical Analyst: Ben Bate
Match schedule – Group A
New Zealand v Samoa
Wednesday 13 January, 5pm (Thursday 14 January, 4pm – NZ time)
New Caledonia v New Zealand
Friday 15 January, 2.30pm (Saturday 16 January, 1.30pm – NZ time)
Tonga v New Zealand
Monday 18 January, 2pm (Tuesday 19 January, 1pm – NZ time)
Thursday 21 January (Friday 22 January – NZ time)
Saturday 23 January (Sunday 24 January – NZ time)
Congratulations to the following players selected in the NZSS Boys Football Under 19 squad to tour Australia in July 2015.
Liam BROWN Howick College
Drew FARNSWORTH New Plymouth Boys’ High School
Clarke FOULDS Westlake Boys’ High School
Mitchel HANMORE Excellere College
Quinton KIPARA St Peter’s School (Cambridge)
Calvin LEE Dilworth School
Kyle LEVELL Bream Bay College
Jacob MASSEURS Wellington College
Thomas MCCLOY Sacred Heart College (Auckland)
Lachlan MCISAAC Hamilton Boys’ High School
Jake MECHELL St Peter’s School (Cambridge)
Anton MOORE Mt Albert Grammar School
Zachary NEWDICK St Paul’s Collegiate
Fraser NORRINGTON Rongotai College
Liam OUTTRIM Palmerston North Boys’ High School
Van ROLAND Nelson College
Chris WALDEN Howick College
Oliver WHYTE Scots College
William GILLINGHAM Sacred Heart College (Auckland)
Jack PIRIE Westlake Boys’ High School
Monte RADBURN Gisborne Boys’ High School
Ryan SINGH Albany Senior High School
Simon FOY Head Coach
St Peter’s School (Cambridge)
John Whittle Assistant Coach
New Plymouth Boys High School
Neil PENFOLD Team Manager/Tour Leader
Mission Heights Junior College
John O’DRISCOLL Physiotherapist
Action Physiotherapy, Wellington
This team will travel to Sydney on 17 July 2016 to play the Austalian Secondary Schools Boys, New South Wales Secondary Schools Boys, Western Sydney Wanderers Academy and Sydney FC Academy.
It’s December. The average 16-year-old girl has finished exams and is splitting her time right now between hanging out with friends and making plans for the summer.
Grace Jale is not your average 16-year-old girl.
The talented young footballer is in Brazilian city of Cuiaba preparing for game two of the Football Ferns’ series on Wednesday (NZ time) against one the giants of the football world.
After standout performances earlier this year at the OFC U-20 Women’s Championship in Tonga with the New Zealand side, Tony Readings called Jale into the full senior squad for the first time and the youngster is soaking up the experience.
“It’s been really good,” Jale said, “I’ve been welcomed into the team really nicely and I’ve met all the people who are on the posters on my wall.
“I’ve learned a lot already, football wise and about self-management. I’m rooming with Jazz [Pereira], so it’s been good to room with someone I know. The players have been really good because they pass on their knowledge and everyone is just so nice!”
Jale said the major difference in the Ferns environment from others she has experienced is the level of individual professionalism on and off the field which ramps up several notches.
“From U-17s going to U-20s it was a big more freedom and coming here, you are with the team but you need to manage yourself properly because nobody is going to do it for you. This isn’t the U-17s now, I’m going into adulthood.
“[On the pitch] the intensity is way higher. Everything is quick and fast and everyone’s touches are really good so you’ve got to work really hard. Other players around you keep you accountable for your mistakes and tell you what you did wrong to try and make sure you do it right next time or try something else.”
With an individual skillset suiting a role as an attacking midfielder – something which fits neatly with the team’s focus of attention in the attacking third - Jale was stunned at her inclusion for the tour initially.
“I asked Tony at a training after the squad was named, ‘why did you choose me? What am I doing that others aren’t?’ because some good players didn’t make it in and I was surprised.
“Firstly he said my height helps me and he said I’m able to play in different positions and I’ve got an X factor and I can turn on the ball and look forward to play in the strikers.
“I like that position and it’s good to have real quality midfielders around me to teach me so I can pass on that knowledge to the different age groups as well.
After overcoming the early nerves which come with the territory the teenager his entered for the first time, Jale has adopted a mature outlook on her time in Brazil.
“I was really nervous to be selected and I don’t know if I will get on the field or not. But that doesn’t really matter.
“Being in this environment already teaches me heaps and not necessarily getting time – it doesn’t matter that much. I just need to put it in at training and get the most out of it that I can because I’m at a young age and I’ve got a lot of time left.”
See, I told you; Grace Jale is not your average 16-year-old.
The Football Ferns battle Brazil in Cuiaba on Wednesday at 1pm (NZ time) with LIVE coverage on SKY Sport.
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