Wharehine’s Ryan Fairweather started playing football at four years old in Port Albert at the Rodney Otamatea Soccer Association (ROSA). Now he’s off to the UK to play in an U19 representative team.
Fairweather is going on a two-week tour with the Football Fusion U19 NZ team. He will play six games against top sides in England, including Ipswich, Tottenham and Queens Park Rangers.
“It will be a great experience playing teams at the top levels in the world at my age. I am expecting it will be a good challenge for us compared to the level in New Zealand,” he says.
Football Fusion is a private organisation that gives players experiences overseas with the aim of providing them with career-advancing pathways. Fairweather is hoping to impress some of the teams while he is in the UK and make some connections that could help with his dream of becoming a professional football player.
At the end of the programme, players have the opportunity to apply for a scholarship to play football for a university or college in the United States.
Fairweather returned to Mahurangi with his family at the end of last year, after living in Christchurch since 2013. He was invited to play for the Football Fusion team after a former teammate from the South Island recommended him to the coach.
Fusion looked at his long record of playing for top division teams and brought him in without any of the usual vetting process. Fairweather’s highlights from 2019 include playing in the U17 national tournament with Selwyn United (Christchurch), playing for East Coast Bays at the highest level in the NZF Metro League, as well as playing for Mahurangi College’s first XI, which came runner up in its division with the chance to play for promotion at the start of next year.
Last year, he played for Selwyn United, which won the U15 boys South Island championship.