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.