Tak­ing Wellington foot­ball to Ar­gentina


A team of young Wellington north­ern sub­urbs play­ers will see South Amer­i­can foot­ball flair up close this year.

The com­bined acad­emy of the Onslow Ju­nior Foot­ball Club and North Wellington Foot­ball Club is headed up by for­mer Czech in­ter­na­tional Mi­lan Bar­tosz.

The idea of an acad­emy trip was one which had been brew­ing for a while for Bar­tosz, but South Amer­i­can wasn’t ini­tially on his radar.

‘‘I wanted to take them to Europe, but the cost of travel was too high,’’ Bar­tosz said.

‘‘But then when Air New Zealand came out of­fer­ing di­rect flights to Buenos Aires I de­cided that could work.’’

Ar­gentina was a great place to take young foot­ballers, he said.

‘‘Lionel Messi comes from Ar­gentina. It’s one of the best na­tions in the world for foot­ball.’’

For the play­ers trav­el­ling over Bar­tosz has or­gan­ised train­ing ses­sions with the Boca Ju­niors, and also set up some games against Ar­gen­tinian devel­op­ment squads.

‘‘It’s a busy sched­ule for them. It’s cer­tainly not a hol­i­day.’’

Some­thing that made this par­tic­u­lar acad­emy side stand out a bit from oth­ers was its makeup - it has a girl in its ranks.

Sa­man­tha Whyte, a 12-year-old from Brook­lyn, said she was re­ally look­ing for­ward to play­ing against some Ar­gen­tinian op­po­si­tion.

‘‘It’s a bit sad there aren’t any other girls, but it’s fine, I han­dle it,’’ she said.

Whyte hoped to re­turn to Wellington and her Onslow team with more skills.

‘‘And it will be fun to go over­seas to play a sport I love.’’

Bar­tosz said he had al­ways en­vis­aged that the best female play­ers who were se­ri­ous about foot­ball should be able to train and play with the boys.

‘‘The game is faster, it’s more phys­i­cal and they de­velop at a far faster rate than the girls who just train with girls,’’ he said.

As well as train­ing and play­ing with lo­cal sides, the acad­emy team would also have an op­por- tu­nity to see a bit of the lo­cal cul­ture that Ar­gentina is so fa­mous for.

A day and a half had been set aside for sight­see­ing.

The play­ers would also make a trip to a lo­cal or­phan­age, where they planned to give away some foot­ball gear.

The side head­ing to Ar­gentina, coached by Mi­lan Bar­tosz, will in­clude, from left, Jar­rod Roberts, Theo Et­tema, Sa­man­tha Whyte, Mor­gan Smart and Alex Braakhuis.

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