Viard College football goes global
Bishop Viard College’s first XI football side is moving up the grades, thanks to plenty of Burmese flair.
After cleaning up in division 9 in 2011, the team won division 7 last season. This year they are leading division 4 with an 11-1 record, having scored more than 70 goals.
Coach Daniel Griffiths said the success was because of several factors, including amazing team spirit, coaching from Ole Football Academy, and plenty of natural talent.
The robust and long-ball New Zealand style of play was an alien concept, he said.
‘‘These guys all filtered through from the junior teams at Viard together, and now we’re seeing them as senior players.
‘‘ They’re fast, they work for each other on the field and keep the ball at their feet – other teams just chase them around for long periods.’’
The squad is made up of eight Burmese, five Pacific, one Maori, one Cambodian and a solitary European.
They train at Ole – after securing a grant from Infinity – and Griffiths said the coaching of the academy’s Desmond Mitchell and having the new turf as their home pitch has made all the difference.
Football was keeping the Burmese students together and giving them confidence as they settled into their new homeland, he said.
‘‘There’s maybe not that many avenues for them in the wider community. With football they can train and play together, and they love it.
‘‘I’m sure some of them come to school just for football.’’
Viard captain Kyaw Naing Aung said that being a member of the team was easy, because the players knew each other so well and all liked to play possession football, have fun, and score plenty of goals.
Mitchell said putting the team through their paces was enjoyable. ‘‘These guys are passionate about the game and they want to stay longer than other teams at practice.
‘‘They’re technically sound and tough to play against.’’
Griffiths said football had not had much prominence at Viard since the Ascension Priests left in the early 1990s.
Although as many as eight of the 1st XI will leave school this year, the now-strong junior pro- gramme would hopefully ensure they could stay in one of the top four school divisions.
In a mini- tournament with Chanel College (Masterton) and St Peter’s College ( Palmerston North) on August 1 at Ole, Viard beat Chanel 7-1, but lost to St Peter’s 1-0.
Winning season: Bishop Viard College first XI players, from left: Du Too Ko, Kyaw Naing Aung and Rebi Phu Ting are helping to put their school on the football map.