Ipswich calls for tal­ented foot­baller

Auckland City Harbour News - - SPORT - By LAU­REN PRI­EST­LEY

Monty Pat­ter­son is a young man with a big de­ci­sion to make.

The 16-year-old foot­baller tri­alled with pro­fes­sional English foot­ball club Ipswich Town last month and came home with a two-year youth con­tract.

‘‘They ba­si­cally pulled me aside and said they were go­ing to of­fer me a spot. I was pretty sur­prised. Pleas­antly sur­prised though, it’s ex­cit­ing.’’

But that’s not all. Last week Pat­ter­son was of­fered a full schol­ar­ship to study at Loy­ola Univer­sity in Chicago when he grad­u­ates from Mt Al­bert Gram­mar at the end of next year.

‘‘They’re two pretty good of­fers to be hon­est. It’s a hard choice but it’s not a bad sit­u­a­tion to be in.’’

Ipswich want him back in July this year so he will have to do some fast think­ing, he says.

‘‘I would love to be a pro­fes­sional one day. That’s ob­vi­ously my fi­nal goal. It’s just about get­ting there.’’

Pat­ter­son plays on the wing and di­vides his time be­tween the Mt Al­bert Gram­mar pre­mier side, the East­ern Sub­urbs First XI and the New Zealand un­der-17 team.

He lives in When­u­a­pai and trains at least once a day.

‘‘It’s my pas­sion. There’s noth­ing else I would rather be do­ing.’’

Former All Whites coach Kevin Fal­lon works with Pat­ter­son in both his school and club teams.

He says Pat­ter­son’s at­ti­tude sets him apart.

‘‘It al­ways looked like he was go­ing to be a foot­baller. He had what I call the ‘eye of the tiger’.’’

Both of­fers have ad­van­tages in his coach’s opin­ion.

Play­ers of­ten jump at the chance to go to Eng­land but there is also pos­i­tives in hav­ing a univer­sity ed­u­ca­tion to fall back on, Fal­lon says.

‘‘He’s got a lot of pon­der­ing to do in the next few months. But he works hard so he can make it work ei­ther way.’’

East­ern Sub­urbs First XI as­sis­tant coach Mark Holt says Pat­ter­son is a real stand-out for his age.

But the pro­fes­sional foot­ball road is a hard one to travel, he says.

‘‘It shows where play­ers in New Zealand can go. But it’s not easy. I’ve gone to Eng­land and tried it my­self. For a Kiwi it’s much harder.’’

An­other young East­ern Sub­urbs foot­baller also took his game overseas this year.

Pon­sonby Pri­mary school­boy Otto Ing­ham, 11, played fut­sal at the Barcelona Foot­ball Club for three weeks in Jan­uary.

His fa­ther, John Ing­ham, says the ex­pe­ri­ence im­proved his son’s con­fi­dence dra­mat­i­cally.

‘‘Barca is the big club so he was very ner­vous. He’s ba­si­cally come home know­ing he is good enough.’’

Otto was train­ing at the club’s La Ma­sia youth cen­tre with 12 other young fut­sal play­ers.

The Grey Lynn fam­ily will go back to Barcelona with Otto in May for club tri­als.

Photo: JA­SON OXENHAM

Bright fu­ture: Monty Pat­ter­son, 16, is look­ing for­ward to a life­time of foot­ball.

Barcelona boy: Pon­sonby Pri­mary stu­dent Otto Ing­ham, 11, spent three weeks at Barcelona Foot­ball Club this year.

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