Reps give it some Welly


Nine Queenstown youngsters will play in front of footie national selectors at next month’s national age group tournament in Wellington.

The youngsters, all aged between 12 and 16 years old, were selected for Football South rep squads at trials in Dunedin.

Football South is one of seven federations under New Zealand Football.

Central Otago coach Jamie Whitmarsh says: “It’s the best federation players from around the country playing each other.

“It’s a competition in the eyes of all the national selectors – so proper competitive football, not just a little jolly leading up to Christmas.”

Britton Dowling, Ryusei Ishibashi, Hayato Yoneto, Kayde Hollebon, Mitchell Crow and Matthew Cordelle are in the boys’ squad. Nieve Collin and Sophia Lazor are in the girls’ squad.

Youngsters who play for both Rovers men’s and women’s team but don’t live in the resort – such as the hotshot Hislop twins, Amy and Zoe, of Clyde – have also made rep squads.

Football South is taking five age-group teams at the tournament, held in Wellington from December 14 to 18.

Each team will play six games against teams from the six other federations of NZ Football.

Whitmarsh: “The tournament gives them an understanding of what the best players around the country are like and where they are in comparison to that. In some regards they’ll be the best players, in others they won’t.

“So it shows where they need to go.”

Whitmarsh, who’s looking after the U14s boys’ team, says the teams are training together each weekend. Football South has historically been seen as the weakest federation.

“But it’s hard to say – it never really develops that way.

“Sometimes we punch above our weight. Last year we won quite a few games; the year before we didn’t fare so well.

I look at our 14 grade, they look quite good, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be as good as the Auckland 14 grade.”

As well as a trophy for the winning federation, there will be other awards such as most valuable player.

Meanwhile, Whitmarsh is still waiting to see whether his residency visa application will be successful.

If it is there’s a chance he could return as Queenstown Rovers coach next season, despite stepping down from the role at the end of the last season.