By MATTHEW MCKEW
Queenstown Rovers’ stand-out midfielder’s heading to the Junior All Whites training camp
to stake his place in their World Cup qualifier squad.
Young gun Willem Ebbinge, 19, has been an ever-present threat this season and his hard
work’s paid off with a call-up for the under-20s.
It’s not his first rodeo for the national youth set-up, but the burgeoning international hopes to move from the fringes of the squad to becoming a regular.
‘‘I played for the under-17s, when we had a World Cup in India, and I played in the last 20s
World Cup in Poland, so this is the next cycle.
‘‘In the last cycle I was one of the younger boys, so this is my age group, where I’m going to be one of the older and senior players in the environment and I’m looking forward to that challenge.’’
The former Wellington Phoenix player’s been living in the States, where he studies economics at the prestigious Harvard University, as well as representing his college
When Covid hit, Ebbinge was forced to return home to Queenstown, where his parents have lived since he was nine, and he’s not sure when he’ll end up State-side again to finish his studies.
It meant a season in the Otago Daily Times Southern Premier League with Rovers, and gaffer Jamie Whitmarsh’s happy to have him.
‘‘He’s X-factor, he plays a game befitting of somebody that’s an international player, he’s the stand-out in this whole league.’’
Whitmarsh believes the rest of the squad have benefited from his influence and shown them what can be achieved.
Ebbinge: ‘‘I really like the way Jamie and the boys play, not too much hoof ball, which is good.
‘‘I have really loved playing for the boys.’’
Junior All Whites training starts on September 28, and Ebbinge is hoping to bag a place in the team come their January match in Samoa for the first World Cup qualifier.