Our loss is the north’s gain

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A prestigious Auckland sporting academy has plucked a talented young Arrowtown footballer – and his family’s on the move with him. 

Michael Leat, 13, has been chosen for Rangitoto College’s Athlete Performance Academy this year – after impressing selectors not just in soccer but also in tennis, karate and endurance racing. 

Football-mad Michael has played in Central Otago representative teams for the past four years, mum Jackie Leat says. 

“He attends every football academy and coaching clinic available in the region,” she explains. 

“He is very passionate and single-minded in his training and performance on the field. 

“The local football environment has prepared him well. 

“Junior football development [in the Wakatipu] is as good as anywhere in New Zealand.” 

The Leat family moves to Auckland this month for Michael’s big break. 

His younger sister Anna, 10, herself a successful athlete and musician, will also continue her activities there. 

Mum Jackie says Michael’s outlook towards school has changed since being accepted for Rangitoto’s academy. 

“Because the Athlete Performance Academy is wrapped up in the curriculum, school suddenly makes sense to him. 

“This move allows him to follow his dreams and be coached every day by the best in NZ.” 

Michael last year also won gold at the Samurai NZ Karate Champs in his age group for kumite.