“It felt good when I hit it. I thought surely that’s going in,” Manyumow Achol, universally known as Manny, reflects when discussing his spectacular goal in last night’s Premier Youth football final for St. Pats Town against Hutt International Boys’ School (HIBS).
Town beat HIBS 2-1 at Petone’s Memorial Park to capture the Trevor Rigby Cup for just the third time and for the first time since 2004 when the First XI featured a 14 year-old Kosta Barbarouses who became an All White.
Manny’s strike early in the second-half was a telling blow in ending HIBS’ two-year reign as champions. A change of tactics at halftime was vital in creating the chance.
“The guy was marking me in the middle of the park and was hard to get past. I wasn’t getting a lot of space to dribble so I was moved out to the left wing to try and find more space and it worked,” Manny explained.
About ten minutes into the second-half, Manny received the ball from captain Sam Wright on the left wing about ten-metres shy on the box.
“I was in a one on one and beat my marker which opened up space for a shot. I had a crack and knew I had hit it well. It was an awesome feeling when it went in,” Manny recalls.
There would soon be double delight for Town when Liberato Cacace scored to make it 2-0.
“We got our confidence after a goal and I moved back into the middle of the park. We started to find more space and when Liberato scored the boys were doing real well,” Manny acclaims.
HIBS wouldn’t yield their crown easily and pulled a goal back to create an anxious finish.
“I was nervous, but I had faith in the boys we would hang on. We have worked hard all season for this,” Manny said.
Manny has faced plenty of turmoil in his life. He fled war-torn Sudan with his grandma and arrived in New Zealand aged six as a refugee, leaving behind his parents and three sisters.
“I don’t have much memory of leaving Sudan, it's very sad. I haven’t had contact with my family for a long time.”
In 2016, Manny was enrolled at Hutt Valley High School, but that environment wasn’t the most fruitful.
“St Pat’s is a smaller school which means I get more help with my study. I feel the boys and teachers look out for you more here.” Manny justified of his switch of school.
The move has paid off. Manny aligned previously with the Olympic club and Lower Hutt Under-17’s has flourished in the Kaizan academy. In 2018 he is headed to the US on scholarship, most likely with Marshall University in West Virginia.
“I would like to especially thank Carlos Junca, Stu Jacobs and James Prosser for their support. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for them,” Manny concluded.
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