Young player head­ing back to Spain

Auckland City Harbour News - - SPORT - By BEN ROGERS

Otto Ingham is on the path to be­come New Zealand’s very own Lionel Messi.

The 12-year-old Arch Hill res­i­dent is re­turn­ing to Barcelona for nine months to play for Barcelona FC’s elite fut­sal side.

This will be Otto’s sec­ond year in a row in Spain as he chases his dream of one day be­com­ing a pro­fes­sional foot­baller.

Last year he trained with the elite squad but played for lo­cal side Sant Joan De­spı´.

‘‘Foot­ball is fun, I just en­joy it and I make lots of new friends,’’ he says.

‘‘I just want to play pro­fes­sion­ally.’’

In Auck­land, Otto played for Eastern Sub­urbs up un­til re­cently but has now moved to Western Springs.

This year when he re­turns to Spain he will be on the Barca side and look­ing to step his game up to the next level.

‘‘I love the train­ing, the coaches and the other boys but I re­ally like the gear we get to wear.’’

Otto will re­ceive a full Barcelona kit in­clud­ing trav­el­ling polo shirts, full game strip and track­suits.

The team trav­els on a pri­vate bus to tour­na­ments in dif­fer­ent parts of Spain.

Last year Otto was joined by his mother Dianne but this year it’s his dad John’s turn to head over­seas.

‘‘We re­ally don’t have a plan, we just need to see how it goes,’’ his fa­ther says.

‘‘We got some re­ally good ad­vice, and we were told to just treat it like an ad­ven­ture be­cause it could all stop to­mor­row.’’

The main thing

is that Otto is en­joy­ing ev­ery minute of it and he knows there is no ex­pec­ta­tion to be­come a pro­fes­sional, his mum says.

Otto will at­tend a lo­cal Cata­lan school dur­ing his time in Spain so he and his dad have been learn­ing the lan­guage.

When Otto isn’t at school he will be train­ing with his fut­sal side in some of the best train­ing fa­cil­i­ties in the world.

‘‘I learn a lot about how to read the game dif­fer­ently and dif­fer­ent moves I should do at cer­tain times.

‘‘The Span­ish play­ers are way faster and they’ve got lots of strate­gies they use for cor­ners and free kicks.’’

Otto has been lucky enough to come face to face with Barcelona leg­end An­dres Ini­esta and also got a nod from his favourite player.

‘‘I once saw Messi and got a wave from him.

‘‘At Barca we train where the top play­ers train so oc­ca­sion­ally you see them.’’

Af­ter last year’s amaz­ing ex­pe­ri­ence Otto is hop­ing to take things even fur­ther with the sup­port of Barca FC.

‘‘Every­one over there is in­cred­i­bly help­ful and they all seem to adore him,’’ his mum says.

‘‘They are just im­pressed with his skill and the nice person that he is.’’

The Pon­sonby In­ter­medi- ate stu­dent leaves for Spain on Au­gust 26 and is look­ing for­ward to catch­ing up with all his Span­ish friends.

New Zealand Foot­ball need not worry though as Otto has al­ready pledged his al­le­giance to the All Whites.

‘‘I’d def­i­nitely play for the Ki­wis over Spain!’’

Big time: Otto Ingham with his mum Dianne at Camp Nou for a Barcelona FC match.

On de­fence: Otto Ingham, cen­tre, de­fends a free kick for his side in Spain last year.

Go on­line to auck­land­c­ity har­bournews.co.nz and click on lat­est edi­tion to watch a video of a young Barcelona fut­sal side.

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