The National Federation Talent Tournament kicks off this Saturday in Wellington with 380 of our top 14-16 year old players from around the country eager to showcase their skills in front of an impressive audience.
Junior and Young All Whites Coach Darren Bazeley and Young Football Ferns Coach Jitka Klimkova will be in Wellington for the tournament, as will NZ Football-s High Performance Manager Fred de Jong and Talent Development Manager Andy Hedge. Each of the region-s Football Development Manager-s will also be at the tournament, and will be using the time together with NZ Football for further planning and development of the Federation Talent Centre and National Talent Centre programmes.
We-re also thrilled to confirm that coaching staff from the Wellington Phoenix will be in attendance at the Tournament as part of their search for players for their new Academy announced recently. The Academy is targeted at students aged 13-17 and will initially be based in Wellington.
Wellington Phoenix General Manager David Dome said “we-re really pleased to be working with NZ Football and the regional football Federations to give the Phoenix coaches an opportunity to view talented New Zealand youngsters. A very real opportunity is a place in our Phoenix Football Academy and the national tournament is a perfect opportunity for us to see all the players at one time, competing against their peers.”
The players taking part in the tournament will follow in the footsteps of some impressive names who have also come through their local Federation talent programme when they were younger. Current All Whites and Wellington Phoenix defender Ben Sigmund is one such player and is excited the national tournament is back. “We all used to look forward to playing in this tournament. You-re up against the best in New Zealand and it’s a great test to see where you-re at with your own skill and fitness. It also gives you the best chance to be in the shop window for national selection.”
Sigmund is joined in the national tournament alumni by a number of quality players including All Whites- Kosta Barbarouses and Dan Keat who both trained and played in the Capital Football representative programme growing up. Barbarouses has gone on to play professionally in Russia and Greece, and is currently playing in the A-League for Melbourne Victory. Keat was signed by top Major League Soccer side LA Galaxy in 2012, making his debut in a friendly against Real Madrid. Keat is currently playing professionally in Sweden.
Auckland-s Matthew Ridenton was part of the region-s National Talent Centre programme. He was recently selected for the Young (U-17) All Whites team and has just returned from competing at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates. Ridenton-s successful year was topped off with the announcement of a three year contract with the Wellington Phoenix.
We-ve also had a number of female players who have been part of their Federation talent programme and gone on to achieve on the world stage. Hanna English has been part of the Federation Talent Centre programme in Dunedin since its inception. In 2012 she played in the ASB Women-s League for Football South and this last season for the NZ Football U-17 team. English was recently selected for the Young (U-17) Football Ferns who played three games against Australia.
Sarah Gregorius was coached in Capital Football-s representative programme growing up. She has made over 40 appearances for the Football Ferns, has spent two years playing in the German Women’s Bundesliga, before signing for Liverpool in July this year.
The National Federation Talent Tournament opens on Saturday 14 December with the first game at 2.45pm, and runs through until Tuesday 17 December. Full details here: http://issuu.com/alidas/docs/national_federation_tournament_prog.