Young football players at Mahurangi College were put through their paces by professional coaches from top flight UK team Tottenham Hotspur when they visited the Warkworth school on Thursday, August 3.
Spurs’ senior global football development coach Shannon Moloney, who played for Tottenham women’s side from 2013 to 2019, and programme coach and former player Tegan Burling, ran three intensive coaching sessions for students from all college teams.
Moloney also spoke to them about her journey to becoming a pro-footballer and the challenges she had faced, encouraging them with humour and passion to pursue their dreams, whether football-related or otherwise.
Mahurangi was one of just 12 schools and seven football clubs across New Zealand to win a visit from the pair, out of 300 that applied to host them on their 10-day national tour. The college was nominated by Alex Paul, whose two sons attend Mahurangi, and sports coordinator Adele Ball, who had to submit a letter to Tottenham sponsor AIA outlining why the sports department believed the school deserved the sessions.
Moloney and Burling are currently based in Hong Kong, where they travel to AIA’s 18 national markets throughout Australasia to motivate young players to pursue active lifestyles and habits, incorporating regular sport, exercise and nutrition.
Moloney told the Mahurangi students that if they wanted to be a footballer, they should go for it, regardless of how unlikely it might seem.
“When I was at school, I said I wanted to be a footballer and my careers teacher said how about a hairdresser – she said it wasn’t possible,” she said.
“If any of you want to be professional footballers, guess what, you can do it. Anything’s possible – there are 16-year-olds playing in the women’s World Cup right now.”
But she warned it wouldn’t be easy, highlighting the importance of such things as determination, persistence, training, sacrifice and never giving up.
Ball said afterwards the students had loved meeting Moloney and Burling and gained a lot from the day.
They were also each given a Tottenham gift-pack, including a shirt, shorts, socks, shin pads and bag.
“They were absolutely buzzing from the experience,” she said. “The knowledge that they received regarding Shannon’s experience as a professional player, alongside the skills and drills sessions, had them wanting to learn more.
“The kids believed they were amongst football royalty and had their new Tottenham shirts signed by both coaches.”