The New Zealand secondary schoolboys soccer team is about to embark on its historic Northern Hemisphere footballing adventure. A 29-strong squad, which includes East Coast Bays players Ric Sheehan and David Ellensohn, will travel to Britain and Europe, the first time a New Zealand secondary school side has toured there, to take on some of the best schoolboy teams from the continent. Assistant coach Malcolm Cowie expects every one of the 10 games to be tough. "For many of the players over there, it is a great chance to be seen by senior clubs," Cowie said. "Although these are friendly games, they will be very competitive." The tour will be an eye-opener for the New Zealand players because the level of competition will be several notches above any they will have experienced before. The New Zealanders will be hoping scouts will be at their games, ready to recruit some young talent from among their number. The reputation of former Kelston Boys High and now Leeds United defender Danny Hay may also draw the curious while the team are in Britain. The squad gather at Wellingtons Ole Soccer Academy on Saturday for a training camp, before flying to London on Tuesday. They play a Northern Schools selection in Aberdeen, Caledonian-Ross County under-18, Scottish Schoolboys, who hold the national cup, Welsh Colleges, Welsh Schools, Boys Clubs of Wales and England schoolboys before departing for Hungary. Cowie used his Scottish contacts to gain matches against Scottish, Welsh and English sides and coach Jacques Vercauteren used his connections for the Hungarian leg of the three-week tour. After arriving in Budapest, the New Zealanders will play youth club sides Vasas under-18 and Ferencvaros, and the Hungarian under-18 side. They return home on Christmas Eve and then play further matches in Australia in January.
Last Modified on 01/07/2009 08:45